Diversity is defined broadly as the collective mixture of differences and similarities that include: individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, preferences, and behaviors. Inclusion, while closely related, is a separate concept from diversity. Inclusion can be defined as the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.
Consistent with the Army’s core values and the JMC mission, the Department of Defense defines diversity as all the different characteristics and attributes that are unified with our core values, integral to mission accomplishment, and reflective of our nation. Diversity includes, but is not limited to: personal life experiences, geographic background, socioeconomic background, cultural knowledge, educational background, work background, language abilities, physical abilities, philosophical/spiritual perspectives, age, race, ethnicity, and gender.
As the Army continues to review and reaffirm its commitment to “People First” by being a more inclusive and representative American institution, it demonstrates this through policy changes. For example, because JMC is committed to conducting a self-assessment in an effort to drive toward a culture of diversity, awareness and inclusion, and to create an environment of open and transparent feedback and action plans that produce tangible results, JMC leaders have continued to conduct listening sessions with the workforce.
To meet the demands of today’s ever changing complex and uncertain operational environments, JMC must employ every advantage to meet these challenges. As we transition from our approach of diversity and inclusion that focuses on race, ethnicity, and gender, we must also focus on skills, background, and ways of thinking. Equal opportunity is the policy of not discriminating against people on the basis of their religion, sex, race, disability, or age – an obligation that JMC continues to take very seriously. Equal opportunity is the foundation for inclusion and diversity. The concept of diversity and inclusion combines the best ideals of representation with the practice of casting a wide net to recruit, train, foster, and promote people with any and all attributes that can benefit JMC, including thinking style, occupational background, and skill sets.
The United States has faced an increasingly wide range of threats and the gap between conventional and unconventional warfare since the terrorist attack on Sep. 11, 2001. Men and women representative of the U.S. population and with different skills, experiences, and backgrounds are needed to respond to new and emerging threats. As the Army and JMC progress from the equal opportunity model of the past to a broader concept of inclusion based on fair and equitable treatment of all personnel regardless of their membership in a protected class, our focus remains on preserving an individual’s attributes and integrating them into the JMC mission and functions.
As the Army and JMC continue to review and reaffirm its commitment to “People First” by being more inclusive and representative of America, we achieve more milestones that highlight our diverse force each day, yet there are still opportunities for improvement.