Army PR push to recruit ethnic minorities

The Army is to launch a fresh PR push in a bid to meet ethnic minority recruitment targets.

Within five years it is hoped at least one in ten recruits will be from ethnic minorities, doubling current figures.

PR work will include media relations, particularly within the ethnic minority press, and events in target regional areas with high Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations.

Colonel Wayne Harber, deputy head of army recruiting, said this latest PR drive is phase two of a campaign launched in 1998.

The first phase, handled by change management specialist Focus Consultancy, was to address racism within the Army and get the Army more involved in ethnic minority community activities.

Following a Central Office of Information pitch last month, Focus has been rehired for this latest phase, to further help change perceptions and concentrate on boosting recruits. Young Asians will be particularly targeted.

Action to boost ethnic minority recruitment follows criticism of racism in the Army during the 1980s and 1990s. One high-profile incident, reported in 1988, involved a Royal Marine recruit being told that, as he was black, his weapon would be a spear rather than a rifle.

Also, in the late 1990s, the Commission for Racial Equality criticised the Army's ethnic minority recruitment.

Since 2000 the number of new recruits from ethnic minorities has risen from two to five per cent.

Col Harber said: 'The Army has changed - we have a zero tolerance to racism. We provide a workplace that is free from harassment.'

Focus PR manager Suzy Rigg, who reports to Col Harber, added: 'The aim now is to get people to actually join and to make sure that young people see the Army as a genuine career choice.'

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