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Senator Doug Jones announces bipartisan bill to improve diversity and inclusion in armed services

Birmingham, Ala. – U.S. Senator Doug Jones of Alabama today announced he will introduce new legislation to codify amendments included in the House-passed version of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to improve diversity and inclusion within the armed services. Congressman Anthony Brown (MD-04) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives yesterday. “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. 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 for too long have been underrepresented throughout our ranks,” said Senator Jones, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In 2011, the Military Leadership Diversity Commission submitted recommendations that are the basis for many of these measures. The inclusion of these provisions in the Diversity in Defense Act and in the FY21 NDAA are some of the most significant steps towards diversity and inclusion in our military since the desegregation of the armed forces in 1948. From his position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Jones has pushed for policies and investments that will help increase diversity and expand support for female and minority service members, who are often underrepresented in elite units and in the military’s upper ranks. He also championed legislation that was included in the FY20 NDAA to address the shortage of military pilots and lack of diversity in the pilot corps. The Diversity in Defense Act includes the following key provisions:

  • Establishment of Mentoring and Career Counseling Program. Directs the Department to create a mentoring and career counseling program that ensures that all military occupational specialties and career fields reflect the demographics of the armed forces.

  • Diversity in Selection Boards. Requires membership of selection boards to represent the diversity of the armed forces as a whole.

  • Redaction of Personally Identifiable Information from Records Furnished to a Promotion Board.  Requires the Secretary of each Military Department to redact any personally identifiable information from records furnished to a promotion board.

  • Plans to Increase Female and Minority Representation in the Armed Forces. Directs the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of each Military Department will develop plans to increase female and minority representation in recruiting, retention, and ranks above the grade of E-7.   

  • Establishment of Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council of the Department of Defense to provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters concerning diversity and inclusion in the Department of Defense. 

  • Diversity and Inclusion Reporting Requirements. Sets forth specific criteria and requirements for reports related to diversity and inclusion that are to be submitted to Congress. 

  • Chief Diversity Officers. Establishes a Chief Diversity Officer for the Department of Defense and requires that the Chief Diversity Officer report directly to the Secretary of Defense. Establishes a similar Officer and reporting structure for the Departments of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. 

  • Report on Demographics of Officers Appointed to Certain Grades. Requires each Secretary of a Military Department to submit a report to the Armed Services Committees summarizing the gender and race of each individual who received an appointment under section 531 or 601 of Title 10 during the immediately preceding fiscal year.

  • Establishment of Special Inspector General for Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Armed Forces. Creates a Special IG look into racial and ethnic disparities in the military and in the military justice system. The Special IG would have the authority to make recommendations for improvements, and the Special IG would also be able to look into recruitment and promotion processes, as well as investigate white supremacist activity. 

  • Plan to Improve Responses to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Members of the Armed Forces and Employees of the Department of Defense.  Requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to ensure members of the Armed Forces who are pregnant or recently gave birth will not have their careers unduly affected.

  • Pilot Program for the Temporary Issuance of Maternity-Related Uniform Items. Directs the department to carry out a pilot program to enable the establishment of offices to issue maternity-related uniform items to pregnant members of the Armed Forces on a temporary basis at no cost to the service member.

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