Reflecting on my first few months in post

As many of you know, I took on the role of Chief of Defence People (CDP) just as the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning to grip the world in February. As you can imagine, this has meant that the first few months in post have brought some interesting and unexpected challenges as we all get used to this new way of life. While some aspects of the ways in which we work have changed drastically in recent months, the crucial role you all play has remained constant. You are more valuable and essential to Defence outputs than ever before in these challenging, uncertain times.

As CDP I am in the privileged position of being able see this first-hand and have the opportunity to make sure that you all feel supported, developed and engaged throughout your careers and beyond. I plan to build on the successes of my predecessor, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, by continuing to improve the offer and by working with the single Services to increase the recruitment and retention of Service personnel. We can achieve this by developing a workforce that is drawn from the society we represent, that reflects the demands of the modern world we operate in, and maximises the use of talent across the military and civilian cadres.

Over the past few weeks we have read, watched, listened and learned about the ongoing racism and diversity and inclusion issues that are inexcusably still present in society today. Racism and discrimination, in any form, has no place in Defence. We say we have a zero tolerance on these issues, and we need to live up to that. The Permanent Secretary, Stephen Lovegrove, has said every single one of us needs to use our voice to dismantle discrimination. We have a responsibility and a duty to call out racism where we see it and to challenge inequality where it persists or thrives.

We've seen some incredibly engaging and thought-provoking messages from staff across the department, from colleagues at the British Embassy in Washington, and from our Race Champion Sherin Aminossehe. The all staff dial in earlier this week generated an important discussion around the issue. It's vital to have an open and honest dialogue on discrimination, racism, and diversity and inclusion across Defence as a whole.

Going forward, we want to ensure that people's talents are developed and used where they are needed most, as well as giving them more opportunity to shape their own career paths. We must also make sure that those transitioning to new roles, or back into civilian life, have been given access to the tools and support they need to prepare for their next chapter. This is an area that has seen much improvement in recent years, but I know that there is always more that can be done.

The importance of mental fitness

The world in which we operate is changing at a faster rate than ever before. We must be ready to recognise, understand and respond to the pace of change, and our success in meeting this challenge depends on our people. Covid-19 is just the most recent example.

We are ramping up our efforts in the provision of mental health support; particularly given the challenges we are currently facing. We must do all that we can to ensure our people are adequately supported with the tools, resources and