Race Equality Awards 2016 - Recruiting Diverse Talent (public org) - Royal Airforce

Reflecting the Society We Serve

The RAF has historically struggled to recruit from diverse backgrounds and improving Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) recruitment remains its highest people priority, with a 2020 recruitment target of 10%. Annual incremental trajectories are also set, from 4.05% in 2016/17 rising to 8.1% in 2018/19.

A review of the recruitment process revealed a higher than average drop-out rate for BAME candidates. To address this, the RAF has developed a comprehensive engagement and recruitment campaign encompassing youth engagement, attraction, recruiting and selection.


The campaign, Generating Genius, is in its eighth year of delivery. It includes the establishment of a forum of over 30 young BAME role models which informs senior decision-making and RAF policy on training and engagement, mentor BAME applicants, act as ambassadors and provide peer-to-peer support. The campaign has also led to the commissioning of intelligent research to inform local strategies and the introduction of a new BAME diversity awareness training package for all recruiting staff, and has supported a conference of key stakeholders from academia and communities to address misperceptions and raise awareness of career pathways.

New initiatives are supported by in-house research and use of external subject matter experts, and STEM programmes benefit from Professional Institution input, and partnership with education providers and the corporate sector. Supporting marketing campaigns and case studies with BAME focus have also been produced, and mandated recording of all engagement activity informs resource allocation.

Schools are carefully targeted for early engagement and provision of careers information, particularly in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) sector, and 25% of schools outreach is currently focussed in areas of high BAME density.

Comprehensive communication of BAME recruitment targets is delivered to outreach and recruitment staff weekly and details of outreach staff engagement is shared with recruiters and youth engagement staff. Targets are cascaded via individual Mission Directives to Commanders and onwards to every individual in the organisation, including youth outreach, recruiting and selection staff for officer and other ranks cadres.


BAME recruitment has increased from 2.6% in 2013/14 to 4% in 2015/16. Introducing applicant mentoring has improved the BAME conversion rate from 29.9:1 in 2013/14 to 10.8:1 in 2015/16, and the BAME applicant mentoring initiative has been extended to all applicants.

The programme's success has kept BAME diversity in the spotlight and underpins the funding line, including securing funding for an enduring 10-year BAME-focussed programme aimed at developing a sustainable future recruiting model, with six new recruiting and outreach teams. The programme recognises the impact of intersectionality on Diversity and Inclusion programmes and has developed interventions that offer benefits on multiple fronts, delivering value for money.

The Generating Genius programme will be expanded beyond the pre-GCSE cohort and offer the A-level group focussed mentoring leading to membership of University Air Squadrons.