To mark #IDAHOBIT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we are publishing an extract from the address Penny Mordaunt, former Minister of State for the Armed Forces gave to Armed Forces personnel and civilians working in defence this week.
Inclusivity is a necessary condition of freedom: the possibility that everyone is able to reach their full potential. To be able to seize the same opportunities without further barriers being placed in your way. Being valued and treasured, and enabled to thrive.
So much in what we do, if we do it well, whether we are in the Armed Forces or civilians, relies on us pushing ourselves, and so it requires us to have self-knowledge and self-confidence.
Unless we have both- unless we can be ourselves- we cannot be our best.
That is why inclusivity is so important. Our workforce requires it to thrive. Our ambitions rely on it, if they are to be achieved. And our values demand it.
At times I know it has felt that defence has just kept pace as this agenda as it has gained recognition. I have always felt that that was not good enough, that defence had to lead. For members of our armed forces and civilians working in defence and security, privacy is not an option. Not being able to be open about our lives, and our relationships, doesn’t just mean that we unlikely to be emotionally and psychologically at our best, but that we are also making ourselves vulnerable. There are other practical reasons too why it is right that the MOD and the services are making this a priority- the requirement to recruit and retain being another.
But there is a more fundamental reason than our operational capability and resilience to ensure defence is the trail blazer for an inclusive workplace. If inclusivity is a necessary condition of freedom then those that defend that freedom must also be the defenders of inclusivity. And that is why I gave such weight to this agenda in my term as Minister of State for the Armed Forces.
I am immensely proud of the work the MOD has done on this agenda. It is not just the right thing to do for our own people, but sends the most powerful message across the country and around the world, about who we are and what we stand for.
And whether we deliver that message by being a Stonewall Ally, by creating inclusive workplaces, by tackling bullying, by promoting role models, or by 5,200lbs of thrust as the Red Arrows blaze across the sky over London Pride, we must continue to do so.