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For DOD, diversity begins with inclusion, culture change

The Defense Department has been publicly grappling with the fallout from the police killing of George Floyd in May and the roiling nationwide protests that followed. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called it a "wakeup call" and rolled out several diversity initiatives and studies, including a new board to make recommendations, in June. But those might not mean as much without changing behaviors.

Janice Glover-Jones, the Defense Intelligence Agency's chief diversity, equality and inclusion officer, said that diversity has to be more than compliance and hitting numbers. It must focus on inclusivity and a behavior change within teams.

"Inclusion can no longer be an option, we have to get it to the point of default and a norm," Glover-Jones said during a virtual INSA event Aug. 11. "Diversity does not presuppose that you have a voice. You can be in a room and don't necessarily have a voice or your voice is not always, shall I say, appreciated in the room."

Glover-Jones, who formerly served as DIA's CIO, said organizational and societal approaches to diversity are narrowed to race, gender and nationality and "limited to compliance and management of the numbers as it relates to minorities and even in some cases even the complaints process."

The solution, at least in part, is to "promote inclusive behaviors," from collaboration to idea generation to decision-making, and "shift teams into having a fuller appreciation and a higher value on our similarities, as well as our differences, and bring that together to support the mission that we have," she said.

"There isn't sufficient emphasis on promoting overall inclusion," she said. That inclusivity also extends to "cognitive diversity" such as the ability to challenge or disrupt traditional methods to improve and support an agency's mission.

"We need diverse ideas to challenge the status quo, to break out from homogenized thinking and often linearized perspectives," she said. "We need to challenge some of our historical analytical patterns" to figure out what may be missing.

Glover-Jones' comments come as DOD confronts its own history of racial discrimination, with Esper banning displays of the Confederate flag on bases and in barracks. The military also just saw the elevation of Gen. Charles Brown, Jr. to serve as the first-ever Black military service chief, taking the post of Air Force Chief of Staff.

Congress has also taken on these issues, targeting the renaming of military bases named after Confederate leaders and installing chief diversity officers in every military service in the proposed 2021 defense policy bill. President Donald Trump has threatened to veto that bill if it included language mandating the base renaming despite both chambers passing their version of the bill with a veto-proof majority.

Reader comments

Sat, Aug 15, 2020

That is the thought process of the majority. an area of work can have 50 whites 3-4 blacks a sprinkle of other ethnic groups and our white colleagues immediately feel threatened and make snide comments as noted above. A work area can be predominantly Caucasian and the comment noted above would never have been said. I have been ostracized, demeaned, and my input ignored., not because I am employee but because I am black. They consider they have done me a favor shut up and be quiet and thank God we gave you a job. No area of any job should b dominated by any one race, unless there is no other qualified candidates. But who is watching the hiring practices? crooked the DOD needs an overhaul...

Fri, Aug 14, 2020

Racial preferences and quotas for Blacks have long been the norm in DIA but now there is Glover-Jones to escalate the give away.

Thu, Aug 13, 2020

How about also abandoning a clenched fist which was started by the communist and is still used by them. Too many people died in Vietnam and others came back a different person from fighting the oppopression of communism. As far as diversity and culture training, I had that back in day working for the AF. It was called Social Actions training. Having a voice? Ask some of the clerks and admin people and other users of systems and changes what is their opinions, give them a voice.

Thu, Aug 13, 2020

Yes, banning Confederate flags, renaming bases, and "installing chief diversity officers in every military service," sure that will do it??? MOST of the discrimination and nepotism I experienced in the military was from Black members and groups playing favoritism to each other. Also, units and sections virtue signaling to have mix the male-to-female, as well as, racial representation (and now sexual orientation too) was common. So apparently, by this article, "diversity" appears to only to be in regards to "Black people."

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