Understanding Diversity Issues through the Lived Experience of UK Defence Personnel
A large-scale qualitative study is being undertaken to explore the ‘Lived Experience’ of working in MOD of females and BAME personnel. This refers to a person’s first-hand experience in everyday events in their working lives. A timeline interview approach is being used with over 600 personnel across the three Armed Services and Civil Service in the UK. The aim of the study is to better understand the experiences of these individuals (in comparison with the white, male majority) to inform further actions to improve the representation of these minority groups across Defence. The study asks:
- To what extent does gender and ethnicity influence the Lived Experience of working in MOD?
- What are the positive aspects of this and how can these be exploited?
- What are the negative aspects of this and how can these be addressed?
- How can these findings be interpreted in light of theories/literature on minority representation in organisations?
This is a considerable qualitative study, in terms of its scale and ambition. Before embarking on the main study the method was piloted with 30 participants to assess whether the approach worked effectively across all cohorts and mediums, and mitigating steps have since been taken in the next phase. To date, a number of methodological lessons have been learnt, which we suggest are valuable to garnering sociological insight of use to large scale military organisations.