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Diversity Leadership in the U.S. Department of Defense: Analysis of the Key Roles, Responsibilities, and Attributes of Diversity Leaders

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Technical Report

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RAND National Defense Research Institute Santa Monica United States

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This study identifies the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other personal characteristics KSAOs needed in individuals who will be responsible for implementing strategic diversity plans in the U.S. Department of Defense DoD. The authors interviewed more than 60 diversity leaders in industry, the public sector including DoD, and academia and reviewed relevant scientific literature, education programs, and advertised job requirements. The study found that primary roles and responsibilities for diversity leaders include strategic leadership, stakeholder engagement, tracking diversity trends, and human resourcesrelated activities. To carry out these responsibilities, diversity leaders would ideally have the following KSAOs interpersonal skills business expertise leadership skills equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and diversity knowledge and skills a driven personality and commitment to diversity analytical abilities and skills critical thinking and problem-solving skills and multicultural competence. Certain KSAOs are harder to develop than others e.g., personality attributes and motivation and should form the basis of selection of diversity leaders. Other KSAOs, such as problem-solving, communication, and technical skills, are easier to develop and may be enhanced through training and education. The study recommends a three-step plan for DoD to help determine how to train and educate future DoD diversity leaders 1 determine whether there should be a separate professional development track for diversity and inclusion personnel, 2 determine training and education requirements by focusing on those KSAOs more amenable to development, and 3 determine the best means for fulfilling those requirements e.g., whether to outsource the training.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Sociology and Law

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