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Intelligence and Security Committee

Volume 611: debated on Thursday 26 May 2016

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) reported in March 2015 on Women in the UK Intelligence Community, and today I am laying the Government’s response before both Houses of Parliament. The Government and all agencies wholeheartedly agreed with the ISC’s statement that,

“Diversity should... be pursued not just on legal or ethical grounds—which are important in themselves— but because it will result in a better response to the range of threats that we face to our national security”.

I am grateful to the Committee for its thorough examination of this issue. Our response provides an update on the progress that has been made over the last year. I am determined to see positive change, recognising that it will take time to achieve the full impact we want.

Since the publication of the ISC’s report, all three agencies have increased their focus on all aspects of diversity, and have taken concrete steps to attract, encourage, and support women. The ISC rightly pointed to the benefit of sharing initiatives across the intelligence community, and I welcome the joint activities the agencies have delivered, and their collaboration with international partners.

Diversity strengthens our public sector organisations. Ensuring the agencies reflect the country they serve will be essential in enabling them to respond to the complex threats we face. This has been a positive year for promoting all forms of diversity in the intelligence community, as their exceptional commitment to inclusion has been externally acknowledged and celebrated. But there is more to be done to sustain our efforts and build on this success.