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Immediate Release

Secretary Mark T. Esper Provides Update on Department Efforts to Address Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Opportunity in the Military Services

Recently, Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper issued a memorandum directing a three-pronged approach to take the initiative against discrimination, prejudice and bias in all ranks of the Armed Forces. Each of the efforts aimed to identify actions the Department can take within policies, programs and processes to improve diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity for all Service members:

  1. A short-term “sprint” to identify immediate actions;
  2. A mid-term DOD Board on Diversity and Inclusion; and,
  3. A long-term Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in the Armed Forces.

Today, as prescribed in the mid-term effort of the three-pronged approach, the DoD Board on Diversity and Inclusion met at the Pentagon for the first time as a group.  The Secretary met with members of the board as they outlined the Department’s way forward on addressing diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity.

The members of the board are as follows:

  • Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (Chair)
  • Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Matthew Donovan (Senior Department Member)
  • Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón Colón-López (Senior Enlisted Member)
  • Air Force Brigadier Gen. Troy Dunn (Military Lead)
  • Navy Capt. Judy Malana (Senior Officer)
  • Army Maj. Wrencla Lopez (Member)
  • Army Maj. Randy Fleming (Member)
  • Marine Capt. Oludare Adeniji (Member)
  • Navy Lt. Cassandra Chang (Member)
  • Army Capt. Chrystal Ware (Member)
  • Navy Master Chief John Diaz (Member)
  • Army Sgt. Maj. Gabriel Harvey (Member)
  • Air Force Master Sgt. Deondra Park (Member)
  • Air Force National Guard Master Sgt. Jessica Todd (Member)
  • Space Force Technical Sgt. Tysheena Brown-Jefferson (Member)

In addition to today’s meeting, the Secretary issued a memorandum on Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Military Service which details recommendations from across the Department that the Secretary deemed necessary to address immediately. To that end, the Secretary directed the following:

  • Remove photographs from consideration by promotion boards and selection processes and develop additional guidance, as applicable, that emphasizes retaining qualified diverse talent;
  • Update the Department’s military equal opportunity and diversity inclusion policies;
  • Obtain and analyze additional data on prejudice and bias within the force;
  • Add bias awareness and bystander intervention to the violence prevention framework;
  • Develop educational requirements for implementation across the military lifecycle to educate the force on unconscious bias;
  • Develop a program of instruction containing techniques and procedures which enable commanders to have relevant, candid and effective discussions;
  • Review hairstyle and grooming policies for racial bias;
  • Review effectiveness of Military Service equal opportunity offices; and,
  • Support Military Department initiatives.

“The actions I am directing are a necessary first step, but I have no illusion that these initial actions will fully address the concerns many of us know and which I have personally heard from many service members,” said Secretary Esper following the conclusion of the initial Board on Diversity and Inclusion meeting.  “These actions identified today will better ensure a diverse workforce at all levels, an inclusive environment, and equal opportunity for all who serve.  But hard work remains as efforts to shift our culture requires steadfast attention. I look forward to receiving the recommendations of the Board and making further progress on these issues.  I want to thank each member of the Board for taking on this responsibility and working to make the U.S. military a more cohesive, ready and capable force in defense of our great Nation.”

The Secretary’s June 19 memorandum directing the three-pronged approach can be found here. The memorandum on Immediate Actions to Address Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Military Services can be found here.