Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Speech: Race to change the face of the diplomatic civil service

MoD_RSS

War Hero
On a cold autumn afternoon last month, nearly 200 British civil servants and diplomats packed into the Locarno Room at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to mark a historic moment. For the first time in such detail, the history of black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – our history – was published and discussed.

The note, Black Skin, Whitehall: Race and the Foreign Office, 1945 to 2018, written by FCO historian James Southern tells the story of BAME officers in the context of decades of debate in the UK on the legacy of the Empire, immigration and integration of minority communities. It was an emotional moment for us all.

The historical parts of the note make for deeply uncomfortable reading. In the early 1950s, successive Civil Service commissioners argued that,


a person of un-English appearance or speech might be unsuitable for a situation in which he would act as a representative of the United Kingdom to foreigners.

In the mid-1960s, three high-performing civil servants from a BAME background were denied entry into the Diplomatic Service because they weren’t trusted to be loyal to the country. Seventy years ago, we suspect that the only way people like our grandparents or great grandparents would have been allowed into the Foreign Office would have been to serve tea to British diplomats.

We have come a long way since then – the FCO is now more diverse than it has ever been with more BAME ambassadors and one of the highest rates of BAME graduate new entrants across Whitehall. We can reflect on the progress led by pioneers like Noel Jones, who would go on to become Britain’s first ever BAME ambassador when he was posted to Kazakhstan in 1993; and Robin Chatterjie, who was the first BAME entrant into the diplomatic service fast stream (graduate entry). There were also enlightened politicians and civil servants who were prepared to challenge convention.

And of course, it is also down to the extraordinary resilience shown by our parents’ generation settling in the UK as Commonwealth citizens in the 1960s and 1970s and the changes they helped to introduce in wider British society. Overcoming significant hurdles including significant racism, they worked all hours, often for little money, to ensure that their children and grandchildren had the best access to opportunities.

Yet, as the note concludes, we have a long way to go. The new BAME entrants appear to be predominantly from a south Asian background. We are still struggling to attract black candidates. Too many of our BAME staff are stuck in the most junior grades. And even when you think you have finally made it, there are still people who think you have only got to where you are because of the colour of your skin.

This has to change. It matters to us that we act as agents of this change. When the three of us joined the FCO in the 2000s, we felt like fish out of water. Our extended families wondered whether it was even allowed for non-white, second-generation immigrants to be British diplomats. And in the FCO, we were acutely aware of being watched by the granite statues of former diplomats who had governed our forefathers in the colonies.

It is true that each of us has experienced some form of racial discrimination in our careers, whether that’s being refused entry into an event (because they had assumed we were drivers), being stopped more frequently at airports or military checkpoints, or simply being ignored in favour of white colleagues. However, our diversity has enabled us to develop deep relationships and build influential networks, often challenging and breaking down tired stereotypes of the quintessential British diplomat. Since we joined, we have had incredibly rewarding careers which have given us unique experiences. We feel proud and privileged to work for the FCO, to represent the UK overseas, and to play a role in keeping the UK safe, secure and prosperous. Sir Simon McDonald, the FCO’s permanent under-secretary recently said that it was “essential we make further progress to ensure our modern diplomatic service reflects the best of the diversity of the UK”. We couldn’t agree more.

Our country needs to attract the best talent from all backgrounds in society to fulfil this responsibility. This also means that we embrace and ensure that we make the most of our uniqueness and our heritage links – to be who we are.

Diversity is a huge strength for our country. Two of us come from the West Midlands, not all of us went to Oxbridge, our heritage links span three continents, we went to state and non-state schools, and speak several languages. From Baghdad to Dhaka to Kuala Lumpur, we have taken our diversity with us wherever we have been posted. For those reading this article, we would encourage you to read the history note. And if you feel, like us, that you could be a part of a bold and diverse diplomatic service, look at potential careers in the FCO and help us make history, like our parents and grandparents who didn’t accept the status quo.

We owe this to our current and future generations of British diplomats, and to the country that we represent. We hope that a future version of this note will say that the FCO recruits the very best from society irrespective of background, and that the diplomatic service at all levels now reflects modern Britain. This is not just because it’s morally right to have a diverse diplomatic service, but because our diplomacy needs it.

Continue reading...
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS COP26 President speech at Race to Zero campaign launch MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Secretary of State for International Trade NFU conference speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Environment Secretary, George Eustice, speech at NFU Conference 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Prime Minister's speech at the Munich Security Conference: 19 February 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Landmark proposals to strengthen free speech at universities MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Scottish Secretary speech on Scottish farming MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Oliver Dowden speech to RESET 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Education Secretary speech to Education Policy Institute on remote learning MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Helen Stephenson CBE speech at the ICAEW Charity Conference 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS COP26 President's keynote speech at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week summit MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Economic Update speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Environment Secretary speech on gene-editing consultation: Oxford Farming Conference 2021 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech on coronavirus restriction tiers, vaccines and testing MoD News 0
MoD_RSS ‘Fight For Fairness’ speech to set out government’s new approach to equality MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Housing Minister’s speech at the Insider Midlands Residential Property Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary's speech on defence reform MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Glenys Stacey's speech at Inside Government Apprenticeship Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Housing Minister’s speech at HOMES UK conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Minister for Pensions Guy Opperman's speech on a new direction for trustee stewardship MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Oliver Dowden speech to the Law Family Commission on Civil Society MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Baroness Goldie speech at 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Security Minister speech to the Royal United Services Institute MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Spending Review 2020 speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Attorney General speech at the London Panel Induction Event MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Housing Minister’s speech at PlaceShapers annual conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Housing Minister's speech at Savills Annual Housing Seminar MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Minister for Equalities delivers International Men's Day speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS The Economic Secretary’s keynote speech to TheCityUK 2020 Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Defence Secretary's speech at the Defence Space Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Dame Glenys Stacey: speech to AOC's FE Summit, 18 November 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS TheCityUK speech: Liz Truss highlights importance of digital, data and services trade MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Matt Warman's speech on digital identity at Identity Week 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Prince of Wales speech at the Bundestag, Berlin: 15 November 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to NHS Clinical Commissioners conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS John Whittingdale's Speech at Open Data Institute Summit 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to Airport Operators Association, November 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Baroness Dido Harding’s speech to the CBI Annual Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Natural Capital Committee Speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chatham House speech: Liz Truss sets out vision for values-driven free trade MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Baroness Sugg speech on girls' education at UNESCO’s Global Education Meeting MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to Great Northern Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Coronavirus debate: opening speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS “Beyond the crisis” - speech to the aviation industry MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Christopher Pincher's speech to the District Councils' Network MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor's speech: Legal Wales Conference MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech to NHS Providers MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chair’s speech to the Charity Law Association Annual Conference 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Foreign Secretary’s speech to United Nations General Assembly 2020 MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lord Chancellor’s Speech: Opening of the Legal Year Service MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Chair's speech to the Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting 2020 MoD News 0
Similar threads


















































Latest Threads

New Posts

Top