Spies must stop displaying 'alpha behaviours' such as 'strength', according to leaked intelligence diversity plans

Spies must stop displaying 'alpha behaviours' such as 'strength', according to leaked intelligence diversity plans

Colonel Richard Kemp defended "alpha" behaviours which he said were crucial for spies to display

Steven Edginton

By Steven Edginton

Published: 19/04/2024

- 17:21

Updated: 20/04/2024

- 13:20

Diversity plans tell agents to use gender neutral language, spend an hour a week on diversity and celebrate Black History Month

Spies must stop displaying “alpha behaviours” such as “strength” and “urgency”, according to leaked intelligence diversity plans seen by GB News.

The Mission Critical Toolkit, a 140-page Government diversity strategy for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, tells spies to wear rainbow lanyards, avoid gendered language such as “manpower”, and “foreign words” such as “status quo” and “noblesse oblige” as they are “hard to follow”.

It is advised that spies spend an hour a week on diversity and inclusion, and cultural awareness days are held twice a year for events such as Pride and Black History Month.

The document calls for a culture shift in the intelligence services away from “competitive, ‘alpha’ behaviours” and towards “collaborative behaviour based on shared values and purpose in the national interest”.

Mission Critical describes “pressure to conform to dominant ‘alpha’ ways of working in a competitive environment driven by strength, urgency, reactivity and high expectation” among Britain’s national security community.

Colonel Richard Kemp told GB News: “These are exactly the type of characteristics that are vital for anyone working in intelligence.”

Daniel Craig as James BondDaniel Craig left the role of James Bond behind in 2019 following No Time to Die METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS, COLUMBIA PICTURES, DANJAQ, LLC

“I spent many years working with the intelligence services, GCHQ, MI6, MI5, Defence Intelligence, all of those characteristics are fundamental to the work of those intelligence services.”

The toolkit warns against using the words “strong” or “grip” as they “reinforce the dominant cultural patterns”.

Colonel Kemp continued: “To discourage people from behaving in that [alpha] way is certainly going to undermine our military intelligence collection capabilities.”

Published in July 2022, the toolkit is focused on “Improving National Security Culture, Diversity and Inclusion”.

LGBT flag

Spies were told to wear rainbow pins and lanyards to support diversity.


It features a foreword by the former National Security Adviser, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, and quotes endorsing diversity, inclusion and equality by the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Richard Drax, the Conservative MP said: “I am pretty certain I know what James Bond would have said to this divisive toolkit, and it would not have been polite.”

“I would have thought being a spy is an alpha occupation and a necessary characteristic if you are to survive in a sometimes dangerous environment.”

The toolkit tells readers to “Signal your allyship” by “wearing a rainbow lanyard, pin or including your pronouns in your signature blocks” and to to “Be inclusive” by “Watch[ing] out for dominance or the loudest voice”.

Various “diversity champions” across the national security industry are mentioned throughout the document, including Samantha Job, the former Director for Defence and International Security at the Foreign Office who was a “Gender Champion” claimed “rooms full of men didn’t make the best decisions” and complained of “micro-behaviours”.

Job wrote: “FCDO policy is that no employee should pay for sex (even where it’s legal overseas). That sounds like something the whole [national security] community should sign up to.”

The Foreign Office’s Social Mobility Champion claims in the document: “Failure to recognise and implement change to ensure a representative workforce in the national security community is a threat to national security.”

The document describes race, ethnicity and gender as “social constructs”, and claims that “gender varies from society to society and can change over time”.

The death of George Floyd in 2020 is described as an example of an event that “can have a toxic influence on national security culture”, however “if addressed well” it can “open conversations that lead to positive change”.

Spies are urged to be inclusive by displaying “prominent figures from black history on computer desktop backgrounds during Black History Month” and are asked “Why not put up a rainbow flag during Pride week or wear lanyards/pin-badges to show affiliation to underrepresented groups, for example?”

Colonel Kemp described the diversity plans as part of a “sickness that is infecting the whole of government” and stressed: “The world is a very, l dangerous place today, much more dangerous than any time since the Second World War in so many different ways.”

“And our intelligence services play such a fundamental role in reducing that danger, enabling us to foresee what's happening and take action to prevent it happening or taking counteraction,” he said.

“And that is the core priority of our intelligence services. Not all of the different categories of inclusiveness [in the toolkit]”.

The diversity plans cite a 2019 “Culture Inquiry” into Britain’s intelligence services and found that spies reported experiencing “strong hierarchy that is reinforced/ respected to such an extent that it is applied irrespective of necessity”, “workload that can lead to a less balanced approach to work and life and puts wellbeing at risk”, “expertise being used in a way that tends towards grandstanding” and “a strong sense of commitment that can extend to a sense of superiority”.

The document was written by the National Security Community Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Team and is aimed at staff in various government departments and intelligence agencies.

Spies are told: “A more diverse national security leadership could significantly improve our response to today's national security threats.”

The toolkit refers to inquiries into false claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq war and then states: “Past intelligence failures and poor decision-making might have been avoided through more diverse thinking”.

Drax, who sits on the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, told GB News: “This toolkit will not build a dedicated team, it will destroy it, undermine morale and break the very structure that is needed to maintain our security.”

He continued: “It strikes at our Britishness, who we are and what we stand for. It’s hard to believe that our intelligence services have succumbed to this mad and destructive political correctness. I wonder what their brave predecessors would say.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "A lot of work has been done to review Equality, Diversity and Inclusion spending across Government, particularly over the last year.

"It is right taxpayers have value for money, and we are considering a presumption against this type of spending in the Civil Service.’’

You may like