This Armed Forces week I will be sharing my thoughts in an action-packed week dedicated to the community I love and have felt a special affinity to, since as long as I can remember …
“feeling of belonging made me want to serve”
I am British-Indian born and raised in Birmingham, an ethnically diverse city, where for the most part, assimilation and respect for diverse cultures was the norm. Sure, there were sadly exceptions to that rule, as in society generally. However, that feeling of belonging was undoubtedly a contributor to me wanting to join the Armed Forces and serve the country I love.
I recall that well-known “Lord Kitchener Wants You!” poster on one of my brothers’ bedroom wall, and as far as I was concerned that poster was talking to me! Circumstances meant that my opportunity to serve has come later as a proud Reservist and I’ll be talking more about what it means for me to be a Reservist Reservists Day this Wednesday.
Today I want to add my voice to the message that it is vital that we ensure all members of our diverse society can, just like me, feel that joining the Armed Forces is something they can aspire to and be welcomed in, whatever their ethnic background. We’ve come a long way, however there’s still a lot to do before we can say we have achieved that goal.
“all of society will benefit”
Joining the Armed Forces means having a role that makes a real difference and, also provides valuable skills to continue to contribute to society through a fruitful career or self-employment after leaving service. All members of the BAME community who wish to and who have the necessary attributes should be able to take part in this positive journey. All of society benefits,
Additionally, and crucially; for our Armed Forces to be their best and truly represent us, they need to represent all constituent parts of our nation. This brings the added advantage of greater capability through cultural insight when dealing with other countries internationally.
“communication, communication, communication. Finding the right words can sometimes be difficult. However, never ever be afraid to ask!
I was delighted to join fellow speakers at the Army Cadet Force BAME conference, established by Major Jon Barkat last week where each contributor talked about their journey and what we can all do to achieve greater inclusion for the BAME community and help break through glass ceilings.
One very simple but crucial tip that resounded with me was:
at times we can all be unsure of appropriate words to say with a community or culture we are unfamiliar with. That concern not to cause offence can often mean that we avoid communicating altogether! In those circumstances, learn to feel comfortable in saying “please help me to find the right words” Everyone will appreciate your intent and want to help. And we all learn together!
Below is a summary of the excellent conference where the findings were that we must continue to focus on: Education, Collaboration, Communication and Support.