Secretary of Defense issues guidance for diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity in the military
In a dramatic change to the promotion board process, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper directed the removal of photographs from consideration on promotion boards and selection processes effective September 1, 2020. In the Memorandum dated July 14, 2020, he asked for a review of policies and processes to ensure diverse selection panels as well as the removal of all references to race, ethnicity, and gender in the packets reviewed by promotion boards. The goal is to ensure that these processes are free from bias based on race, ethnicity, gender, or national origin.
This follows the Army’s initiative, Project Inclusion announced on June 25, 2020 which also call for the removal of photos from officer promotion boards beginning August 2020. “The Army is taking substantive actions to ensure that promotion and selection boards are as fair and impartial as possible,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy. “We’ll be initiating listening sessions to encourage the open dialogue that is critical to helping understand and support each other.”
“The Army must continue to put People First by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every Soldier and civilian,” said Gen. James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff. “Our diverse workforce is a competitive advantage and the Army must continue to offer fair treatment, access and opportunity across the force. The Project Inclusion reforms will complement ongoing efforts to modernize our talent-management processes and ensure equitable treatment for every member of our formation.”
Esper has addressed some additional actions which will take place to improve equal opportunity and diversity policies within the military:
- Update DoD’s military harassment policy to increase protections for Service Members facing harassing behaviors especially racial bias and prejudice
- Update the military equal opportunity policy to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy.
- Roles and responsibilities of leaders regarding equal opportunity will be defined and updated
- Prejudice and Bias that exist in the force is not always transparent so DoD will collect and analyze data to identify patterns and trends. The data will be used to improve DoD policies and programs.
- Increase the frequency of Equal Opportunity surveys in the workplace to determine what areas need improvement.
- Conduct a study to identify factors affecting the racial and ethnic minority officer retention and promotion.
- Develop a training program to educate the force on unconscious bias and how that can impact their decisions.
- Additional training for commanders on how have effective discussions on discrimination, bias, and prejudice with their units
- Update hairstyle and grooming policies to remove racial bias
- Determine how effective Military Service equal opportunity offices are and make recommendations for changes.
Esper wrote in the memorandum, the success of our military mission depends on a disciplined and lethal force prepared to defend our country and our Constitution. There is no greater mission and no greater calling. When our Nation’s young men and women volunteer to join the U.S. Armed Forces, they do so to be a part of this critical mission, but also to be a part of a military “family” that spans over 10 generations. It is a bond that is revered. enduring, and essential to our integrity and all we do. As a military, we succeed by working together, hand in hand, side by side. Diversity and inclusivity in the ranks are not merely aspirations. they are fundamental necessities to our readiness and our mission success. The actions I am directing are a necessary first step, but hard work remains, and we will continue to learn as we move forward. Shifting culture requires steadfast attention; these actions will maximize our efforts to ensure a diverse workforce at all levels, an inclusive environment. and equal opportunity for all who serve.
These are big changes which will hopefully lead to a fairer unbiased promotion process for all service members as well as improvements to current equal opportunity programs across the military branches.
“The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”
Photo from: https://www.defense.gov/
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Lopez
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com