Jones to introduce bill aimed at diversity, inclusion in military

Published 3:17 pm Thursday, August 27, 2020

U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, on Thursday announced plans to introduce new legislation, known as the Diversity in Defense Act, to codify amendments approved by the House in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is aimed at improving diversity and inclusion in the armed services.

The bill has bipartisan support and is being carried in the House by U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, D-MD.

“Although we’ve made progress, there is still work to be done to ensure that our military fosters an inclusive environment that can attract, retain and advance our nation’s top talent,” Jones said in a press release. “I am proud to lead this legislation in the Senate and to advocate for continued efforts to diversify and strengthen our armed forces. We have the greatest military in the world and this effort will ensure we can tap into the strengths of Americans who got too long have been underrepresented throughout our ranks.”

Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, noted in a press release that the Military Leadership Diversity Commission submitted recommendations in 2011 which make up the basis of his planned legislation.

“The inclusion of these provisions in the Diversity in Defense Act and in the [NDAA] are some of the most significant steps toward diversity and inclusion since the desegregation of the armed forces in 1948,” the press release stated.

Among the key provisions in the Diversity in Defense Act are the following:

• A directive to the Department of Defense to create a mentoring and career counseling program that ensures all military occupational specialties and career fields reflect the demographics of the armed forces;

• A requirement that membership of selection boards represent the diversity of te armed forces as a whole;

• A requirement that the Secretary of each military department develop plans to increase female and minority representation in recruiting, retention and ranks above the grade of E-7;

• A directive to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council of the Department of Defense, which will provide advice and recommendations on matters concerning diversity and inclusion within the department;

• The creation of a Chief Diversity Officer for the Department of Defense, who will report directly to the department’s secretary, and the establishment of similar officers nd reporting structures for the departments of each branch of military.

Other provisions include requiring each military department to submit a report on demographics, establishing a Special Inspector General for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Armed Forces, the development of plans to ensure the careers of members of the Armed Forces who are pregnant or recently gave will not be negatively impacted and the creation of a pilot program for the temporary issuance of maternity-related uniform items.