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‘Too few ethnic minority officers’ hired by GCHQ

GCHQ: needs to improve diversity

Britain’s security arrangements are being compromised after a leaked report published by the Sunday Times found that Britain’s spy centre GCHQ is failing to recruit black and ethnic minority people.

The report also highlights the complaints of current black employees who claim they are victims of racism by their colleagues.

Many ethnic minority intelligence officers were interviewed during the preparation of the report, and a litany of complaints were heard. One employee stated:

“I wasn’t born here and although I have been security cleared, I am constantly challenged about my loyalty to Britain by my colleagues.”

Another employee said:

“The security officers ask questions which are culturally inappropriate, insensitive and offensive.” Yet another felt that ethnic minority employees had to work harder than white colleagues “and for less reward.”

Sir Gus O’Donnell Head of the Civil Service says a lack of officers with specialist knowledge of languages like Urdu and Arabic is compromising Britain’s security.

“It is critical to have a diverse staff group who are able to profile and recognise certain behavior patterns and communications.”

Chris Marshall Director of Communications at GCHQ said the organisation had

“long recognised that strict nationality and residency requirements for staff, and the specialist nature of our work, have made it challenging to develop a workforce which represents the diversity of the UK population.”

Mr. Marshall said that in response to the findings of the report, GCHQ was in the process of “making a number of improvements to our policies and practices”, including employing a dedicated diversity officer and focusing recruitment on specific universities with large ethnic minority populations.

He added that

“GCHQ is regularly recognised as a good employer but we aspire to be the best,” he said. “We recognise that recruiting a diverse range of people, treating them in a non-discriminatory way and supporting them to achieve their full potential is key to that aspiration.”

GCHQ clearly has a lot to do is its seriously going to address what is described as a fundamental weakness in the UK ability to monitor potential terrorist threats across the world. Here we see how important a diverse workforce can be to national security.

Having a multi cultural workforce in a globalised world is an advantage that GCHQ needs to recognise and institute an effective recruitment campaign targeting diverse communities.

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