Sir Nick Carter: The importance of Maximising talent

The Army is an organisation that strives for excellence in everything we do. For us, pursuing diversity and inclusion is therefore about attracting talented individuals from the breadth of UK society and maximising the talent of every one of those individuals.

I have initiated a maximising talent strategy which has three main components: broadening the Army’s recruiting base, modernising our career structure and career management, underpinned by continually improving our leadership.

The recruiting environment is challenging for everyone at present. We need to look beyond our traditional recruiting markets to secure the talent we need for the future. We need to become more ethnically diverse to reflect the changing demographics within the UK and we must do better at convincing women to consider a career in the Army. It makes no sense that we currently only draw 10% of our strength from 51% of the population.

“My goal is that our best-qualified soldiers, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or social background, should be offered the opportunity to serve in any of the Army’s roles”

Our current career structure requires officers and soldiers to complete certain appointments within specific time, age and career windows. I have therefore directed that we review our career structure to identify potential barriers and scope opportunities to be more flexible. I have introduced a trial of more flexible working patterns which allow some individuals to work a reduced number of days per year, so job share and I want to enable movement between service in the Reserve and Regular components. This will require cultural change in an organisation that has always privileged full time service.

As well as attracting talent to join the Army, we must ensure that our culture is one in which all talent can thrive. I launched the Army Leadership Code in September 2015 to help our leaders translate our Values and Standards into desired leadership behaviours; to better understand their subordinates and to place their care at the forefront of their thinking. To illustrate what I mean when I speak to newly appointed Commanding Officers I ask them:

  • How well do you know your soldiers?
  • Do you listen, do you encourage learning and development, and do you set sensible constraints and then allow soldiers to learn from honest mistakes?
  • Do you require them to respect each other?
  • Do you ask yourself — what have I done for my soldiers today?
  • Do you provide clarity of purpose, do you make decisions (even if sometimes they have to be based on assumptions)
  • Have you ever wondered what your soldiers think of you? Do you care?
  • Do you set an example that you are proud of?
  • Do you enjoy accepting responsibility?
  • What do you do to improve yourself as a leader?
  • Do you live by the values and standards that you expect your soldiers to live by?

If they can look themselves in the mirror and answer in the affirmative then there is a reasonable chance they will be the sort of leader who looks downwards, which is the sort of leader we want. The Army completed a Sexual Harassment Survey and a Bullying, Harassment and Discrimination Study in 2015 which provided an invaluable insight into the lived experience of our personnel. We now have a co-ordinated strategy to ensure that our policy is fit for purpose and we are putting measures in place to ensure that this translates into a positive lived experience for every one of our service personnel.

My goal is that our best-qualified soldiers, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or social background, should be offered the opportunity to serve in any of the Army’s roles. This is about retaining our operational edge to be able to prevail in an increasingly complex environment.


The Chief of the General Staff (CGS) is the professional head of the Army, with responsibility for developing and generating military capability from an integrated Army (Regular and Reserve) and for maintaining the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Service.

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  1. imjin01 -

    In my comment made 30.06.1620:21 delete 1939. Should be 1935

  2. imjin01 -

    I notice the General didn’t ask the COs ” did they encourage the study of Regimental History ” In my day in was ” Regimental Pride ” not ” Gay Pride “
    A clear example of not promoting Regimental History can be seen with R. Regt Fusiliers referring to The Wilhelmstahl Banner as a ” flag ” In addition to this, the Fusiliers completely ignore the command of the then Sovereign King George Vth. when in 1939, the King ordered the way in which the Commemorative Banner should be paraded. i.e. Only on St Georges Day when the Banner was to marched from the Officers Mess to the parade ground, and remain and the right of the Saluting Base. After the parade, the Banner should be marched back to the Officers Mess, where it should REMAIN UNTIL THE NEXT ST GEORGES DAY.
    If the Army cannot obey The Sovereigns Command, there seems to be little chance of the Army listening to General Carters command,