The MI5’s diverse workforce and “rich mix of skills” helps keep it ahead of terrorism threats in a rapidly changing world.
That was the view of MI5 director general Andrew Parker, speaking at the Royal Society’s annual diversity conference last week.
Mr Parker said all of the agency’s successes had relied on the innovation, talent and expertise of staff in IT, science and technological roles and that these skills were increasingly vital in countering the threats the UK faces.
He commented: “MI5 has a vital, critical dependence on the best and brightest minds to help us stop these threats. Scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians play a crucial part in keeping the country safe.
“I pay tribute to their work and I call upon others in these disciplines to consider the varied and challenging roles a career in British intelligence can offer.”
The MI5 is often celebrated for its diversity and in 2016 has been named one of the top 50 employers for women by the Sunday Times, and one of the top UK employers for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Mr Parker added that the intelligence agency’s ongoing success depended on its all-inclusive approach.
“My experience is that for all the challenges MI5 faces, we are stronger and better placed to rise to them with the richest mix of talents we can find,” he said.
“It's what makes it less likely people will be killed by terrorism or our secrets will be stolen from under our noses.”
Since June 2013, MI5 has worked with GCHQ and the police to disrupt 12 terrorism plots in the UK, posed mostly by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh in Syria.
Mr Parker labelled ISIL “an enduring threat” that is “here to stay” and “at least a generational challenge”.
“We will find and stop most attempts to attack us, but not all,” he concluded.