For over five years, now, I have had the honor of overseeing Diversity efforts first for the Navy, and now in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I say overseeing rather than leading because our Department of Defense (DoD) has pioneers like Admiral Mike Mullen and Admiral Gary Roughead who made diversity their priority. More importantly, these champions have led by moving words to action.
Nearly every organization can show activity by participating in a wide array of events however, few turn that activity into meaningful action. The leaders with whom I have worked clearly understood this fact and drove leadership accountability into every diversity strategy they implemented. Today’s DoD is utilizing the “best practices” captured from across the DoD and aligning efforts to realize actions that can actually achieve results.
This action is vital as advancing diversity within the DoD is not simply the right thing to do; advancing diversity is the smart thing to do. It is a strategic imperative, in fact, and requires us to recruit, develop and retain the best talent in order to produce a workforce capable of meeting current and future challenges.
For the DoD, continued readiness and mission success is priority. Making sure we reach the best talent from across the nation is essential to this effort. I, and others, take this responsibility seriously enough to where we refer to it as a “battle for talent.” And like any battle fought by the DoD, we are devoting all that we can to succeed.
Evolving demographics demand that we change, as the DoD should reflect the best of the nation it serves. Nowhere is this more apparent than when comparing the growth of the Hispanic community in the nation versus that in the DoD. While we have made gains in the last 10 years, we will continue to work toward further gains. But we seek the unique perspective that so many bring regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. We must make the connection, build a mutually beneficial relationship and grow a lasting partnership that reaches all parts of our nation. If that is achieved, we will infuse our military with innovative ideas and approaches that will keep our DoD poised to tackle ever increasing global challenges.
To find the best talent, the DoD is working harder than ever to partner with community and affinity groups. We are moving from episodic to sustained engagement with these groups and key community leaders. We know each organization is looking for a long-term commitment – to truly develop mutually supporting efforts. This approach is key and DoD has redoubled its efforts – reaching out to key influencers throughout the Hispanic community.
The DoD has overhauled its outreach strategy, and I believe you will see a noticeable difference in the near future. We will be hosting more forums with educators, parents and community leaders and engagement opportunities with local commands to talk and to see how we can partner better. Many more will see the wide array of careers that the DoD has to offer either in uniform or as a civilian in some of the most cutting-edge fields. Often those we meet are not saying “no” to serving the DoD. They just do not “know” the full scope of opportunities available. Our goal is to connect the nation to their Department of Defense in order to bridge that gap.
To this end, we invite you to visit our website at http://diversity.defense.gov
where we are placing a variety of resources. Our expanding social networking sites, such as Facebook, provide easy access to find out more. If you have an interest – I guarantee you that the Department of Defense has something for you.
To build partnerships that are lasting, we need your active engagement. Be a mentor, or better yet, a sponsor for the generation coming after you. So many miss opportunities because they just do not see what is part of the possible. While the DoD will do more on the outreach front, it is important for all community assets to mobilize and make a difference. Together – partnering – we can truly achieve more.
Full speed ahead!