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The term ‘diversity’ has commonly been used to describe the variations in characteristics among two or more individuals; it can cover visible (for instance, age, gender, race) as well as invisible (for instance, knowledge, values, culture) characteristics. Considering the attention paid to diversity by contemporary firms, understanding the reason for this focus on workforce diversity and what it implies within the armed forces personnel management context is valuable (Kamarck, 2017). Within the armed forces, the subject of diversity is complex in nature, conceptually as well as with respect to its administrative and more practical implications. EO (Equal Opportunity) program helps foster an environment free from prejudice, the army stays aware of diversity. War challenged gender roles and to what degree society accepted them under regulation AR 600-20. Increased diversity in the areas of recruitment, employment and development has challenged conventional armed forces organizational principles, standards, outlooks, and beliefs. It has led to the modification and revision of HR.
The armed forces constitute a national asset and have traditionally been leading opportunities for a diverse group of individuals. It is a huge organization that enjoys an international presence. The American armed forces status as a diversity-focused employer makes it a competitive edge, given the current diverse candidate pool, in recruiting talented personnel across cultures, ethnicities, genders, generations, experiences and other backgrounds. The armed forces draws employees from the world’s most diverse country, but there is need for further progress since expected demographic shifts, together with the diminishing available talent pool may have implications with regard to sustaining the AVF (All- Volunteer Force). It is a well-known fact that the armed forces has a proud and long history of diversity, ever since the 1948 Presidential Executive Order on equal opportunity and treatment within the armed forces. Though the nation’s pride in the level of diversity it has achieved via equal employment opportunity and equal opportunity is warranted, the focus for the long term has to transcend these efforts. Military leaders need to stress the fact that diversity forms an intrinsic component of American culture, and if adequately recognized and supported, forms the bedrock for an inclusive army environment. This represents one constituent of developing adaptive, responsive and active leaders who are able to efficiently operate in whatever environment they face. It is a vital component of leadership which sustains superior performance by means of the armed forces imperatives: Prepare, Sustain, Transform, and Reset (Judy & D’Amico, 1999).
Considering the distinctive contribution of the armed forces to society, one will find further reasons for the Department of Defense to value diversity. The importance of diversity within the armed forces has occasionally been discussed within the civil-military relationship context. The relationship has been described by a few as forming a trinity comprising of civil society, armed forces members and civilian leadership. The latter decides how the armed forces may be resourced and employed. Civilian society influences the civilian decision making entities. Recruits of AVFs are taken from civilian society, a part of which has served, currently serves, or is impacted directly by service personnel. How strong the bond is between service personnel and civil society is linked to societal readiness to take part in conflicts, resource armed forces, or accept the recommendations of military leaders. On the other hand, an armed forces leadership detached from society can raise doubts regarding civilian leaders’ legitimacy and that of their decisions pertaining to military matters (Kamarck, 2017).
Tactical necessity is occasionally incorporated into the armed forces context. Consider the example of the Marine Lioness initiative, which enabled women Marines to carry out search activities and gather actionable intelligence from local Iraqi women. Moreover, for an army that operates in remote areas across the globe, diversity of personnel backgrounds typically ensures units have people well-versed with the area’s language or culture. Also, the business world has already extensively accepted the need for diversity in personnel retention and recruitment efforts and the army ought to do so too. The presence of females and minorities at a workplace facilitates their retention and recruitment. White males have profited from the above principle for many generations now, though have failed to consciously consider it. It is no choice between superior standards and diversity – the two are not mutually exclusive aspects. In fact, the proper approach to diversity may end up improving army standards (Forsling, 2015).
Numerous extant practices which drive efficient diversity programs spring from a need for constant improvements in business results and improved corporate mission performance. Diversity programs impact highly skilled employees’ availability and a company’s capability of getting the full benefit of such capabilities. All-encompassing environments in which personnel feel they are valued by their organization may serve to decrease workforce related expenses, yield superior quality products, increase product/service marketing, and improve innovation. The armed forces’ diversity program drivers include mission achievement, the current workforce’s preparedness, national imperatives, future HR requirements, and the need to prepare civilians and soldiers for international engagements and the human leadership dimension. A bigger case for armed forces diversity incorporates the following key considerations (Judy & D’Amico, 1999):
The armed forces experiences a powerful incentive for file and rank diversity training and education — a majority of army personnel will probably experience cultural issues via conflict or various other foreign missions. But cultural understanding should commence from the domestic level. The future demographics of the armed forces will bring fresh cultural and linguistic challenges within military ranks. Thus, understanding internal differences – whether personal, cultural, or other – through education, training, and other opportunities for development will develop among employees a penchant for understanding other people, whether for deployment missions or future generation recruitments.
The expected nature of global engagements in the future necessitates a diverse military ready to address conflict’s human dimension. Present and imminent security environments demand a culturally adaptive and perceptive military that can respond to the nation’s interests in any environment. An efficient, long-run corporate diversity undertaking will provide the armed forces with a chance at becoming a national diversity leader. Attainment of this goal will end up making a strong statement to army personnel and the country. Effective understanding of internal differences (including cultural disparities) will result in a tendency for respecting individual differences, extending to global operations preparations. It is naturally not easy to appreciate other cultures prior to appreciating one’s own culture. But internal success can improve one’s capability of going beyond personal differences and becoming more sensitive to other cultures.
One need not link diversity to a straw man’s trope of inferior standards. If equal opportunity and results are together embraced, one may end up with a win-win situation. While this can take time, one can actually improve military quality and slowly make it appear more like the diverse American nation (Forsling, 2017).
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