Diversity in the Military Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1469 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Military

¶ … Diversity Training Programs for the U.S. Armed Forces

Because its members are drawn from all walks of life in society and disparate geographic locations, one of the most diverse organizations in the United States is its armed forces. This diverse collection of individuals must function as a seamless and well-integrated team, particularly during combat operations, in order to ensure mission success as well as the safety of its soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines as well as the officers who lead them. In order to develop and maintain this level of cohesiveness, though, it is important that the military recognizes that diversity in the ranks can present a number of challenges, including cross-cultural and increasingly, sexual orientation issues. To help identify how the U.S. military can benefit from the strengths that a highly diverse organization can provide while minimizing the associated challenges, this paper provides a review of the relevant literature, including a needs assessment, the design of such a training program and how it will be developed, implemented and its effectiveness measured. Finally, a discussion concerning how diversity training programs can contribute to combat readiness and esprit de corps is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

Needs assessment: What are the training needs?

Although each military service and its constituent elements will present different training needs based on their respective memberships and organizational missions, there are some commonalities involved in these needs that can help illuminate and inform what types of diversity training requirements are needed in a given military unit. For example, despite an increasing amount of effort on the part of top commanders, sex discrimination remains an important issue in the U.S. military. Perhaps the most high-profile instance took place in November 1996, when the U.S. Army was confronted with potential sexual harassment claims from more than 5,000 females who claimed the military was treating them unfairly compared to their male counterparts (Hemphill & Haines, 1999). The recent elimination of the "don't ask, don't tell" rule and allow active duty service by open homosexuals has likewise introduced some potential new needs, depending on the composition of a given military unit (Obama signs repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' 2010). In this regard, Kraiger emphasizes the need for unit-specific needs assessment to develop effective training programs: "The first step in preparing for diversity training is to conduct an organizational needs assessment to determine the nature and severity of diversity problems or issues in the organization. Only then can a comprehensive, long-term diversity strategy be created" (2002, p. 122).

To help determine what type of diversity training is needed in any given situation, an identification of what types of discriminatory practices might be taking place is required. In this regard, discrimination can be grouped into four basic categories as shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1

Types of commonly encountered discrimination in the American workplace

Discrimination Type

Description

Isolated discrimination:

Intentionally harmful actions undertaken by a dominant group member against members of a subordinate group, without that action being socially embedded in the larger organization or community context.

Small group discrimination:

Intentionally harmful actions undertaken by a few dominant group members acting in concert against members of subordinate groups, without the sanction of the larger organization.

Direct institutional discrimination:

Organizationally prescribed actions that, by intention, have a negative impact upon members of subordinate groups which are routine actions carried out by large numbers of employees guided by organizational norms and culture.

Indirect institutional discrimination:

Practices that have a negative impact upon members of a subordinate group -- even though the prescribed norms and regulations guiding these actions were established with no intent to harm subordinate group members.

Source: Hemphill & Haines, 1999, p. 2

Design: How will the training materials be created?

The training materials needed for a diversity training program in the U.S. armed forces would include those described in Table 2 below with the corresponding responsibility for material development indicated.

Table 2

Training Resources

Responsibility for Development and Updating

Written handouts

Department of Defense (DoD) pursuant to DoD Directive No. 1020.02, February 5, 2009 (Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (EO) in the Department of Defense).

Case studies of workplace discrimination

Service-specific (i.e., U.S. Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard)

Videos (motion picture or DVD)

Service-specific

Self-awareness exercises

Unit level (i.e., division, wing, battalion or company level)

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