MI Spies

The BBC is carrying a story on several of its outlets about recruitment at MI5 and MI6 (the UK’s domestic and international intelligence services). They are part of an attempt to increase recruitment to both services, which seems like a good idea – one of the problems of being a secret(ive) service is that people don’t automatically think of you when it’s time to find a job.

The article mentions an attempt to increase the number of ethnic minorities working at both organizations. In general that’s something I support, as it increases the variety of insights that can be brought used beyond the traditional variety (Oxford or Cambridge). But in a radio interview I heard as part of this push one of the participants claimed this was because the organization should better reflect diversity in the UK. This struck me as profoundly flawed. I have no idea what the correct balance should be, but if the head of MI’s 5 or 6 told me that they needed 90% Muslims to be most effective I’d nod and say go for it, just as I would if they said they needed no Muslims but 90% Arabic speakers, or 100% redheads. Diversity for diversity’s sake is fine, but always secondary to the primary objective of doing the job, which is protecting all of us, however diverse we may be.

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