Navy Diversity Directorate Formed

Story Number: NNS040625-20Release Date: 6/27/2004 7:00:00 AM
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By Senior Chief Journalist (SW) Katie Suich, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Navy has formed a Directorate dedicated to supporting the Chief of Naval Operations' vision of expanding the Navy's diversity initiatives.

In order to focus on the strategic diversity mission, the Directorate will be divided into four working groups: accessions, training and development, organizational alignment and communications.

The Navy has long been recognized as a model of diversity for America, working to align ethnic and gender representation in its ranks to reflect the country's diversity. To that end there have been many successes, including the inclusion of African-American Sailors in the 1940s, active recruitment of Filipino Sailors in 1947 and the integration of women at sea in the 1980s. Yet recent reviews of the progress of diversity have highlighted areas still needing improvement.

"What is compelling is that we have an officer force that is less diverse than the enlisted force," said Capt. Syd Abernethy, special assistant for Minority Affairs in Washington, D.C. "Of the officer force, the ratio is 80 percent non-minority. In the enlisted force, that ratio is 60 percent non-minority, but the senior enlisted (E-8 and E-9) are less reflective," he added.

Seeing a direct relationship between diversity and mission readiness, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark added new focus on diversity in his Guidance for 2004. Clark expanded the traditional focus of diversity beyond race and gender, and folded in a Sailor's creativity, culture, ethnicity, religion, skills and talents.

Vice Adm. Gerald Hoewing, Chief of Naval Personnel, said in a recent article published in Diversity, Inc., "We are America, and when you bring the passions and talents and capabilities together and focus them on our military missions, it gives us an advantage that is substantially greater than what our adversaries can hope to bring."

With retention and recruitment at the highest levels ever recorded, the Navy can now afford to focus on shaping the force, ensuring the best qualified, most diverse candidates are challenged to seek leadership roles in the senior enlisted and officer ranks of the future.

The Accessions group is looking toward recruiting larger numbers of highly-qualified minority officer candidates, and minority and female enlisted candidates. These Sailors will qualify for the most challenging technical fields in the Navy. The group is also looking at commissioning programs that encourage qualified minority enlisted Sailors to apply for commissions.

"Over the next 50 years, we expect a huge growth in the Hispanic population, and we want to cull the best," Abernethy added. "That means we need to sow the seeds early, reaching kids in middle school and high school, and give them a reason to take and excel in advanced math and science courses."

The Training and Development Group strives to embed the Navy's diversity vision into all Sailor and civilian leadership training and management tools. It seeks to create a culture that values diversity through the continuous education and training of Sailors and civilians, promoting individual success through opportunities and access to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities to their fullest potential. This group will continuously track, monitor and assess promotion, advancement, program selections, and retention rates of all Sailors and civilians, and use results as indicators for success.

"The way to change the culture is in embedded, formalized discipline, mentoring programs and formalized education, and learning programs embedded in our school houses. Not to highlight but to continue to be able to expose our Sailors and civilians to the power of a diverse Navy throughout their career," said Hoewing in the Diversity, Inc., article.

Organizational Alignment will develop and maintain an organizational structure that ensures diversity initiatives and programs are integrated and aligned within the Navy.

Finally, the Communications Group will inform and educate all Sailors, active and reserve, their families, retirees and DON civilians about the current diversity initiatives, programs and opportunities. They will inform the general public, potential recruits, media, and legislative and affiliated groups about new diversity programs as they arise.

"Diversity is not just another word for equal opportunity, though that is clearly still a priority for us," Hoewing said. "Today, it needs to be about much more. It needs to be about the incredible power of the new and different ideas that come naturally from the attributes our people bring with them from society."

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