Federal Employees News Digest

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 launching a new diversity board to develop recommendations.

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 an Intelligence and National Security Alliance virtual 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 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.

"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.

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