Army To Stop Using Soldier Photos On Records As Part Of New Project Inclusion

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Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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The Army will no longer include official photos of officers on records reviewed in promotions and selection boards and will begin conducting listening sessions about diversity, a statement released Thursday said. 

The initiatives are part of the Army’s new Project Inclusion, which seeks to improve diversity and inclusion amid recurring concerns related to racial disparity in workplaces, which has been heightened following nationwide protests related to the death of George Floyd. 

As part of the project, the Army will stop using the photos on selection boards beginning in August 2020. There will also be an examination of possible racial disparity within the justice system, and listening sessions with soldiers and civilians will be implemented to discuss topics like race and diversity.

“The Army is taking substantive actions to ensure that promotion and selection boards are as fair and impartial as possible,” Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy says in the statement. “We’ll be initiating listening sessions to encourage the open dialogue that is critical to helping understand and support each other.”

Removing photos from Army selection boards reflects how much race contributes to decisions about which members get advances, according to the New York Times. The decision follows Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s announcement that the Pentagon would launch an internal review aimed at improving diversity and “ensuring equal opportunity across all ranks,” in an effort to effect a “cultural shift.” (RELATED: Defense Secretary: Pentagon Will Review Diversity In Military)

“We are not immune to the forces of bias and prejudice — whether visible or invisible, conscious or unconscious,” Esper said according to CNN.

“We know this bias burdens many of our Service members, and has direct and indirect impact on the experiences of our minority members, the cultural and ethnic diversity of the force, and representation in our officer ranks. These things have no place in our military; they have no place in our country.

Although people of color account for 43% of active-duty military, the top ranks are predominantly white and male, according to the New York Times.