Nearly Half Of New Pentagon Hires Were Minorities In 2022, Strategy Document Shows

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Roughly 46% of new Department of Defense (DOD) hires in 2022 came from minority groups, up from the year prior, according to a performance progress update included with the Pentagon’s annual budget request released Tuesday.

The Strategic Management Plan for 2022 to 2026 lays out high-level, long term goals and steps the department will take to accomplish those objectives and overcome anticipated challenges, as well as a report on the department’s progress in the previous year. DOD gave a positive report in advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) in 2022, and as a measure of good performance, DOD wants to see the percentage of underrepresented military members increase in 2023.

The Pentagon says its DEIA efforts “promote a culture that represents our core military and advances military readiness,” according to the plan. (RELATED: Military Leaders Say DEI Initiatives Aren’t Hurting Recruiting, Accuse Congress Of Politicizing Armed Forces)

“The evolving nature of combat and warfare requires that DOD capitalize on the strategic strength of the Nation — its dynamic diversity to effectively support current and future warfighting missions,” it continues.

The document serves as a progress report toward achieving the goals set forth in a separate DEIA Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2023, it says.

In 2022, DOD set a goal to increase the number of accessions, or new personnel, who are women or fall into minority racial or ethnic demographic categories, the document states. In 2022, 46% of new hires were racial or ethnic minorities and 23% were women, up from 44.2% minority and 20% women in 2021.

Promotions and retention of underrepresented groups also increased from 2021 to 2022. Minority groups received 43.4% of promotions in 2022 compared to 42.2% the year before, while a smaller proportion opted to leave the DOD — 38.7% from 40.5% in 2021.

Related goals included reducing the presence of sexual harassment and perceived extremist behaviors as well as improving firearm safety, which is seen as a means of cutting down on the number of suicides committed by military personnel each year.

Increased attention on DEI supported an overall strategic objective in 2022 of constructing a “safe” and “supportive” environment for defense employees, including troops, according to the document.

The Pentagon outlined similar objectives for 2023 and 2024 in an earlier portion of the document, which set forth a strategic outlook through 2025.

“DEIA has impacts on both the Department’s workforce and its mission, and therefore it should be examined beyond the traditional human resources lens by which it historically has been viewed,” the document states.

Underneath overall force size goals and meeting quotas for individuals with disabilities in the civilian workforce, the DOD hopes to see “increased representation of racial/ethnic minorities and women in underrepresented career fields,” like science and technology, in the coming three years.

Another future performance goal is to “inculcate DEIA efforts” throughout the department. To measure performance, DOD plans to incorporate more DEIA principles into existing DOD guidance and see senior leaders approve inclusion-related recommendations from other reports generated from a cited DEI Risk Report and a 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Board.

However, the document did not give specific targets for the number or percentage of DOD guidance documents that should be updated to include DEIA-specific rules through 2025.

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