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Inclusive Teamwork Award Finalist: The MOD Improving Gender Balance Working Group (MOD)

Who am I and where do I fit in?

Hello, my name’s Lieutenant Commander Karen Barnicoat and I am proud to have been serving in the Royal Navy for 20 years. During that time, I have met some incredible people and had amazing experiences deployed to the Far East, Mediterranean, USA, Middle East and in some really varied roles around the UK. Right now, I’m serving as Military Assistant to Assistant Chief Defence Staff Personnel Capability in central London. I’m also a founding member of a Defence-wide volunteer Working Group, looking at how we can implement evidence-based initiatives to improve gender balance in the military, specifically at senior levels.

We are proud to be nominated

Our team were really excited to hear that we were nominated in the ‘Inclusive Teamwork’ category. This is especially significant for the working group because it recognises and encourages the passion and determination of a collection of volunteers from across the Armed Forces and Civil Service, working together with no formal hierarchy to help identify solutions to a seemingly intractable problem – how to improve gender diversity at the highest levels of the Armed Forces, and to do it at pace!

We came together a little over a year ago with every member of our Working Group bringing unique skills, perspectives and experiences. We started our journey with research, trying to learn what has worked well and what solutions might best offer rewards for Defence. Together we looked at best practice in the private and public sectors, learning from other militaries and drawing from our own experiences. We also looked across Defence, including all elements of the people environment; from policy to promotions rules, education, training and behaviours. Coordinating and collaborating with some great work already underway throughout the organisation, we set about the challenge of proposing and implementing some initiatives, alongside managing our busy day jobs and juggling other commitments brought on by Covid-19. We are now delivering some of our first initiatives and they are already having impact.

How we felt when we discovered we were selected as a finalist

Our team are really passionate about our work, and about supporting the development of each others’ ideas and personal journeys. We felt so honoured to hear that we were selected as finalists! It created a real buzz of excitement and the news keeps inspiring us in our work.  It’s allowed for some reflection time which has shown us how far we’ve come as a team over the past year – we’re really proud of each other! To be recognized alongside the incredible work of the other finalists across all of the categories is a real privilege.

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