For Oral Answer on : 18/11/2021
Question Number(s): 100 Question Reference(s): 56185/21
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Defence if he will report on the efforts being made by his Department to encourage and increase diversity in the ranks of the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I believe it is critically important that the Defence Forces reflects the modern demographics of today’s Irish society. To that end, the Defence Forces is committed to supporting a diverse workforce through its various policies and strategies.
The Defence Forces Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement and Action Plan, launched in 2016, commits to an inclusive workplace environment where dignity and respect are afforded to all. In addition, the Defence Forces comply with the legal provisions of the Gender Recognition Act, 2015.
A number of initiatives with a particular focus on diversity in communications have already been implemented with a view to increasing the diversity of Defence Forces personnel. These include:
- Information on Defence Forces careers provided to cultural, religious and ethnic groups throughout Ireland via the Irish Centre for Diversity;
- Schools receive briefs on careers in the Defence Forces on an ongoing basis and this is coordinated and conducted by Brigades and Formations;
- The Defence Forces website also includes an education piece on Gender, Equality and Diversity;
- And 2020 also saw a review of the Defence Force’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Statement and Action Plan which provided recommendations for the development of the strategy into the future.
The Defence Forces’ approach to diversity and inclusion is also anchored in the White Paper on Defence 2015. A number of projects were identified with a view to ensuring that the Defence Organisation was reflective of Irish society and its changing nature.
Other measures which support the Defence Force’s commitment to a workplace underpinned by diversity and inclusion include the following:
- Both the Department and the Defence Forces, are represented on a Committee, led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth established to oversee and monitor progress on the implementation of the National LGBTI+ Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021.
- Additionally, the Defence Forces LGBTQI+ Network “Defend with Pride” was launched in October 2016 with the aim of providing support, information and guidance for LGBT personnel and allies who wish to support colleagues, family and friends. The Defence Forces were subsequently winners of the HR Leadership & Management Awards 2020 for ‘Best Public Sector Initiative’.
- A Joint Civil/Military working group was established in 2019, to progress the of Transgender Employment Policy for the Defence Forces. This work is continuing.
- The Defence Forces participated in Dublin Pride for the first time in 2018 and contributed to the 2020 virtual Pride Parade in the form of a virtual pride message from the Chair of Defence with Pride, the Defence Forces LGBTQI+ and Allies Network and a message of support and solidarity from the Chaplaincy Service led by the Head Chaplain.
- In addition, the Defence Forces and my Department, also contributed to ‘Our Public Service 2020 Action 16’, which aims to promote equality, diversity and inclusion, across the Public Sector.
I am satisfied that through its various policies and strategies, the Defence Forces with the support of my Department, is committed to supporting a diverse workforce reflecting the Ireland of today.