Tapping The Military For Diversity – It?s More Than Affirmative Action

As a recruiter, I have often heard the words: ?we need help in identifying some excellent diversity candidates.? Although I fully understand the intention of the corporate representative, I?ve never liked using that word. To me, it?s just another label, and it connotes ?splitting up? rather than ?bringing together.? Quite the opposite of its intended purpose. Politically correct, but a label just the same. Most recruiters often mistake the need to ?diversify? their workforce with ?affirmative action.? The true intention of ?diversification? or ?cultural affirmity” is to help the organization tap into the wonders of the cross cultural world in which we live. It is unwise to brand the expectations of a particular section of society across the wide spectrum of today?s society without first understanding how it effects each segment. In order to better comprehend and benefit from our multi-cultural world, it only makes sense to tap individuals from all segments to be part of the team, so that each group is ?represented.? I hope this article can start a trend to get away from the label ?diversity? and instead move towards the desire to recruit ?representative? applicants, so that organizational staffs will truly ?represent? the society in which we all live. The military is an excellent source to tap a good cross section of cultures, races, and both sexes. The reason most people are drawn to the military is to receive valuable training, experiences, and an education. Whether it be a young recruit entering boot camp or a top notch high school student that was selected for an ROTC scholarship or Military Academy appointment, the end result is that individual will receive some of the best training and experiences that is available today. It is often said that once an individual completes this training, they seem more mature and confident than their civilian counterparts, and the change is easily seen by their enhanced physical characteristics. Possibly, it is in their posture, or the way they present themselves, but the feeling of self-esteem is there. There is something to be said for someone that takes the path that ?is more difficult? to achieve or obtain the goal of ?bettering? oneself. To work your way through school, or enlist in the service to obtain the VA benefits of a college tuition, is very admirable, not to mention the obvious benefits to this country for their service. Once this service commitment is completed, should we not as employers ?reward? this sacrifice by considering their potential for our own organizational needs? Since the military offers these incentives of training and the potential of a college education, it is a tremendous draw to those in our society that may not have had this opportunity otherwise. Whether it be a female or an individual of color, the military is blind to the physical characteristics of an individual and offers the same challenges to all. Anyone completing these challenges is rightfully proud of their accomplishments and exhibits tremendous potential to a new employer. Organizations need to ?tap? this unbridled source of potential and break away from the stereotypes that they should only hire ?experienced? applicants. What better experience can an applicant have in today?s world than the ability to adapt and learn new skills? The military has undergone and continues to undergo transformations due to new technology, which is why they select and recruit individuals that are capable of learning and achieving results. Recent demographics of the combined DOD services reflect a very ?representative? percentage of our society as a whole.

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Male Female Total
Caucasian 68.2% 54.5% 66.2%
Black 18.1% 31.6% 20.1%
Hispanic 7.6% 7.2% 7.5%
Asian/Pacific Islander 3.5% 3.4% 3.5%
American Indian .8% 1.1% .9%

Of all of the services, the Army has the highest percentages of attracting men and women of color. The small deviations of not adding up to 100% in each category account for ?other? as classified by the Department of Defense. The most important statistic to remember is that all of these individuals have sought to improve themselves and await new challenges. They have proven themselves under stressful conditions and achieved leadership/team roles not often given to someone of their age and background. More importantly, they accomplished their mission, adding value to their organizations. What challenges can you offer them? Whether you choose to ?diversify? or ?represent? your organizational staffing needs, consider choosing from a group of ?representatives? that are willing to go the extra mile to achieve results.

Bill Gaul (bgaul@destinygrp.com) is President and CEO of The Destiny Group, an Internet-based recruiting tool that utilizes the latest patent-pending technology (including audio/visual) for organizations to use to source men and women departing the military services. Endorsed by all of the U.S. Service Academy Alumni Associations, and three times selected as one of the "50 BEST" by CareerXRoads, this online system is the easiest and lowest cost method to reach transitioning military worldwide, without a per-head fee.

Bill's articles are Copyright 2001, The Destiny Group.

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