Air Force Touts Plans to Track Promotions From a ‘Race, Equity and Gender Standpoint’
The U.S. Air Force’s diversity office touted a scheme to track the “race, ethnicity and gender” of individuals promoted to leadership positions as a way to address perceived diversity gaps, according to an inaugural Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) newsletter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Air Force’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (SAF/DI) found racial disparities in the selection of Air Force airmen and Space Force guardians promoted to leadership positions, the DEIA newsletter, dated February 2023, says. To close those gaps and “support an inclusive culture,” the Air Force is “reporting status of officer promotions, civilian hiring, and force development data from a race, ethnicity and gender standpoint.”
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall directed SAF/DI to “identify approaches to close the gaps between senior leaders’ and DAF members’ (at all levels) understanding of barriers to service for female and underrepresented Airmen and Guardians (military and civilian),” in a 2021 memo, the newsletter says.
The Air Force’s diversity organization identified five “gaps” in DEIA after conducting the mandated review of ongoing efforts to allegedly make representation of ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ identifying people in the total force more equitable, the newsletter states.
For example, SAF/DI found that leaders have “differing levels of resolve” to address discrimination and bias and discrepancies in how judicial and nonjudicial punishment was distributed, the newsletter states. In addition, “some members of underrepresented groups perceive that they must work harder than” the majority “and believe leaders do not value their ideas and contributions.”
“Not all leaders are aware of or agree that there are disparities based on race/ethnicity in the Department of the Air Force,” the newsletter said.
The gaps identified could unfairly prevent members of those groups from achieving the same status as their non-disadvantaged peers, the newsletter alleges.
SAF/DI conducted reviews of several Air Force reports, including racial disparity reviews for 2020 and 2021, as well as an addendum to the 2021 report to determine the primary barriers to inclusion, the newsletter shows.
The Air Force’s internal watchdog identified a number of “root causes” contributing to lower promotion rates among black enlisted and officer personnel, including lack of mentorship, and recommended providing barrier analysis training to supervisors and commanders. Black male officers were represented in line or even in excess of peers in wing commander positions and officer developmental opportunities, but black female officers were underrepresented, the addendum found.
“A key part of our ‘One Team, One Fight’ mantra is about ensuring our Airmen, Guardians, and Department of the Air Force civilians serve in an inclusive environment where they can achieve their full potential,” Kendall said in a statement following the release of the 2021 reports. “This is a top priority for me and leaders across the Air and Space Forces.”
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Besides aggregating data on officer promotions and civilian hiring based on race, ethnicity and gender, the SAF/DI outlined further steps the service has taken to close gaps.
The service is tracking administrative actions on a quarterly basis divided by race, ethnicity and gender compared to the baseline identified in the racial disparity reviews, according to the newsletter. It is also “promoting inclusive leadership” and cracking down on “unconscious bias” through offering DEIA training for Air Force leadership.
SAF/DI also developed a “barrier analysis tool” to assist the office in finding challenges to DEIA and enhance the accuracy of barrier evaluation, the newsletter says.
“These achievements only scratch the surface of our progress, and there is still much more to do — barriers to dismantle, gaps to close, and disparities to eliminate,” SAF/DI Director Marianne Malizia wrote in the introduction to the newsletter.
The Air Force did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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