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Population Benchmarking for the U.S. Department of the Air Force: Impact of Eligibility Requirements and Propensity to Serve on Demographic Representation


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The U.S. Department of the Air Force (DAF) considers a diverse force to be a military necessity (Air Force Global Diversity Division, 2013). The DAF defines diversity across four broad dimensions: demographic diversity, including characteristics that are either inherent or socially defined; cognitive and behavioral diversity; organizational and structural diversity; and global diversity (Air Force Instruction 36-7001, 2019). In each dimension, multiple types of diversity are of concern. Demographic diversity has been one area of recent focus in the DAF, and this includes efforts to better understand dynamics of gender and racial and ethnic diversity. The DAF has placed a strategic focus on improving talent management, including how to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. In fiscal year (FY) 2021, the DAF further emphasized diversity and inclusion by standing up the Secretary of the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). ODI is an extension of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force established in summer 2020. As Tawanda Rooney, then-acting director of Diversity and Inclusion for the DAF, stated, Diversity and Inclusion are warfighting imperatives and we need to capitalize on all available talent by enabling a culture of inclusion where every member is respected and valued for his or her identity, culture and background. (Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, 2021) Because most military personnel begin their careers at the entry-level pay grade and positions are filled by promoting from within, achieving diversity at the point of accession is critical to growing and maintaining a diverse workforce across all pay grades. A lack of diversity at accession limits the pool of diverse individuals who can be promoted to higher ranks.



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