News   Defense News

Acting Secretary Accepts Inclusion Board's 15 Recommendations

Dec. 18, 2020 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller has accepted all 15 recommendations proposed by the Diversity and Inclusion Board chartered by former Defense Secretary Dr.  Mark T. Esper in July.

Miller signed a memo entitled "Actions to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Military" that examined the culture of the military following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A man signs a document while a woman watches.
Signing Documents
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett watches as acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller signs a memorandum detailing the recommendations from the DOD Board on Diversity and Inclusion. Barrett chaired the board, which drew up the 15 recommendations that the services and DOD will now adopt.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 201217-D-BM568-0014M

In the memo, Miller called diversity and inclusion in the DOD "moral imperatives." Miller — and Esper — stressed the need for all service members to be treated with dignity and respect. Service members from different backgrounds and cultures bring a wealth of experiences to the U.S. military and that needs to be encouraged.

"To strengthen diversity and inclusion across the Department of Defense, the Board analyzed data, reviewed literature, crowdsourced feedback, and listened to personal experiences," Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, who chaired the board, said. "Our analysis generated 15 recommendations to empower each individual to fulfill his or her maximum potential."

Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón "CZ" Colón-López and Matthew Donovan, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, assisted Barrett. The board, which included representatives from all services, evaluated military diversity and inclusion policies, programs and processes; reviewed industry best practices; and assessed pertinent data and reports, DOD officials said.

The first recommendation is for military recruiting content to reflect the current and future racial, ethnic and gender demographics of the United States. 

The second recommendation deals with the dearth of diversity at the higher levels of the military. The recommendation calls for the department to develop a data-driven accessions and retention strategy. The deadline for the DOD to develop this strategy is March 31.

The third recommendation looks to increase the diversity of the officer corps itself. It recommends the DOD expand sponsorship of programs and initiatives to increase the available pool of qualified applicants for ROTC enrollments, scholarships and commissions from students enrolled at minority-serving institutions. These institutions include historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, tribal colleges and universities, and institutions serving Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

A man and a woman pose with a signed document.
Leader Photo
Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller and Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett hold the signed memorandum committing the Defense Department to actions toward implementing all 15 recommendations from the DOD Board on Diversity and Inclusion.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 201217-D-BM568-0010M

The board calls for a thorough review of DOD aptitude tests to ensure they do not adversely impact diversity. The DOD will develop plans for a rigorous and thorough assessment of all aptitude tests currently administered. The goal of this assessment will be to analyze, identify and remove — as applicable — "barriers that adversely impact diversity while retaining rigorous screening processes necessary to access a high-quality force," the board recommendation states.

The board also wants the military to evaluate demographic trends in performance evaluations. 

The DOD is also looking to provide diverse pools for nominative positions. These positions are often the road to senior ranks in the department. The board wants to ensure all service members are represented.

The board also wants the department to:

  • Establish a Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
  • Offer internships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics as part of the Junior ROTC program. 
  • Develop an organizational governance structure between diversity and inclusion and equal opportunity offices. 
  • Develop a diversity and inclusion mobile app and website.
  • Include diversity and inclusion instruction in all professional military education curricula. 
  • Increase promotion selection transparency. 

The board also recommends prohibiting all extremist or hate-group activities. While this is already the case, the board wants the DOD to look to ways to strengthen the prohibitions against extremist or hate group activity. 

In conjunction with this, the board wants to update the Uniform Code of Military Justice to address extremist activity.

"The board's recommendations, and the department's measures to implement them, are important and positive steps toward ensuring diversity and inclusion. However, enduring culture change requires commitment from every level of leadership and from every individual service member to capitalize on this momentum. Success requires constant vigilance. These recommendations start us off, but our dedication to this on a force-wide scale will ensure we achieve our end-goal of a more diverse and fully inclusive force," Dr. Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency for the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said.

"Collectively, we must do everything we can to eliminate potential bias, prejudice and racism in our military," Miller wrote. "Our ability to maintain a lethal and ready force depends on it. I am confident these actions will bolster existing diversity and inclusion efforts and pave the way towards new methods of enhancing opportunity and strengthening our nation's defense."