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DON announces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Planning Actions

17 May 2021
WASHINGTON – Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Harker released a memo announcing specific actions towards the Department’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

The effort asks the Chief Diversity Officer of the Navy, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) (ASN (M&RA)), Catherine Kessmeier, to lead a Strategic Planning Team and develop an action plan to promote DEI in Department-wide policies, programs and operations. Harker’s memo formalizes guidance and establishes a framework to develop a strategic plan, identify actionable measures to integrate ongoing DEI efforts and recommend new initiatives.

“Equal opportunity is the bedrock of our democracy and diversity is one of our greatest strengths; both are critical to the readiness of our Navy and Marine Corps team and, ultimately, to our mission success,” said Harker. “Aligned with these guiding principles, it is the policy of the Department of the Navy (DON) to continue making transformative and meaningful steps that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our policies, programs, and operations across the enterprise. This review will examine both Navy and Marine Corps policies and build on existing efforts within both services.”

As the Chief Diversity Officer for the Department, Acting ASN (M&RA) Kessmeier will:

  • Lead a strategic planning team, comprised of officer, enlisted and civilian representatives from the Navy, Marine Corps and Secretariat, to establish a framework to provide direction in developing a strategic plan, identifying actionable measures that integrate ongoing DEI efforts, and recommending new initiatives.
  • Oversee and direct:
    • A 60-day review of contracting to identify improvements needed to promote supplier diversity and ensure proper implementation of equal opportunity and diversity policies in contracts
    • A 60-day review of policies and conventions of naming Navy and Marine Corps assets to identify measures to improve diverse representation
    • A 90-day review of precepts for selection and assignment boards to remove potential barriers to diversity
    • A 90-day review of diversity within the Senior Executive Service to improve the pace of diversity and the strength of the applicant pool, while remaining cognizant of the merit system principles
    • A 90-day review of Navy and Marine Corps grooming policies to inform potential changes to policy
    • A 90-day review to examine an appropriate authoritative data environment for DEI

As review periods for the six initial actions in the memo are completed, the DON will release findings and actions it intends to take to remove existing barriers and advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the Department.

“Equal opportunity is the fundamental promise of the United States. The Department of the Navy is committed to rooting out inequities that have sometimes kept that promise out of reach for underserved and underrepresented communities,” stated Kessmeier. “We recognize the need to understand the barriers that face our workforce, and we need to ensure our policies and processes are constructed to support diversity, equity, and inclusion for every officer, Sailor, Marine and civilian. Advancing equity requires a systematic approach and the Strategic Planning Team will work to address inequities in DON policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.”

Link to full memo - HERE



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