Gender Champion Award 2019 - Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Royal Navy

Finalist for Business in the Community's Gender Champion Award 2019.

Sir Philip came into post in April 2016. Under his leadership, the Royal Navy, an organisation of 32,000 people, has worked in ways that have allowed women to pursue careers in all areas with an equal opportunity to develop their potential and follow their aspirations.

The Royal Navy has recognised the need to continually improve its ability to recruit and retain groups, such as women, that have been underrepresented in the past.
Sir Philip, set out his vision through the diversity and inclusion directive that is displayed in every part of the organisation. It states: “Our strength comes from our people, and to be effective we need to recruit and retain the best available talent.  We need each and every one of our people to be able to perform to their full ability and to feel fully included within their teams so that our effectiveness is maximised.”

Sir Philip has overseen the introduction of women into a department that operates remotely, at depth under the sea, and had been male-only since its inception. This presented many challenges, the most significant being the need for culture change and overcoming medical issues associated with the impact on pregnant women, as well as the challenge of recruits having to pass a long and demanding course, recognised world-over as one of the most mentally and physically demanding.

Sir Philip has turned his inclusive and engaging leadership style into action through his Horizon 50 gender diversity initiative. The name refers to his vision for an organisation that will increasingly offer equality of opportunity to men and women at every level and specialisation. His initiative includes:
  • improved monitoring of gender balance
  • improved diversity of recruiting teams
  • reduction in homogeneous promotion boards
  • improved access to career intermissions
  • improved and more consistent access to child care
  • releasing people to support education outreach
  • visible senior leadership involvement from all company directors
The Royal Navy has established Project LIBRA, which seeks to increase engagement among female and ethnic minority populations, and improve the diversity of its communications, and the terms and conditions of employees on joining. This ten-year project had government financial support but, after the funding was withdrawn Sir Philip agreed to find the resource to keep the project going.
A shadow board has been created for the executive committee, the Royal Navy’s senior management committee responsible for delivering its commitments and outputs. The shadow board includes lots of women and is chaired by a woman.
Advocates and assistant advocates for gender, race, sexual orientation and gender identity; disability, and social mobility have been appointed. Their role is to influence fellow senior employees, wider stakeholders, as well as to demonstrate inclusive leadership.
Sir Philip’s supports the women’s network – he made himself available as a keynote speaker at their annual conferences, appearing by video when out of the country. 

Under Sir Philip’s leadership, the Royal Navy has experienced growth in the number and effectiveness of diversity networks. Because of his visible and consistent support for these, other senior leaders have followed his example and all the organisation’s diversity networks now enjoy senior sponsorship.
During Sir Philip’s time in his post, female representation has increased at all middle management and senior levels up to, and including, director level. There were no women in operational senior roles in 2012,  but it is now routine to have women in these roles. The maternity support initiative has meant the proportion of women who remain in service five years after having their child has risen from 45% to 88% in three years.
The length of time women remain within the organisation has increased by over one year during Sir Philip’s leadership, meaning more women remain longer and are promoted to senior level. This increased diversity of thought is improving the quality of decision making.

The Royal Navy says: “Complacency is an anathema to our CEO. A fresh and powerful gender initiative will soon be launched which will increase the focus on ethics, culture, and the introduction of flexible working options.”