This Perspective summarizes organizational, managerial, and procedural insights that RAND Project AIR FORCE has provided to Department of the Air Force (DAF) leaders in recent years on critical diversity and personnel challenges facing the department. Also, it highlights areas of new focus that DAF leaders might want to consider as they develop and hone diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, practices, and procedures to meet pressing demands.
Perspectives on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of the Air Force
The Department of the Air Force (DAF) for many years has assessed ways it could improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in its workforce and, in particular, increase diversity in its leadership ranks. Although DAF has made progress on these fronts, it needs a more comprehensive understanding of the scope and effectiveness of its DE&I efforts and potential paths forward.
This Perspective summarizes organizational, managerial, and procedural insights that RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) has provided to DAF leaders in recent years on critical diversity and personnel challenges facing the department. Using various methodologies, a PAF team of researchers found that there are no quick wins or shortcuts for DAF to improve representation of racial/ethnic minorities and women among the senior leaders or to create a more equitable and inclusive organization. The road to ideal DE&I is fraught with challenges, including competition from public and private sectors. Still, DAF could benefit from other services' and organizations' experiences.
The PAF team also found that DAF's recruiting, testing, and training pipelines for pilots — the traditional wellspring of its general officers — present structural barriers for minority and women candidates. Overcoming these barriers would require DAF to hold regular and serious conversations about race throughout the force; ensure that diversity and implicit bias training conveys organizational values and encourages active interactions; develop tests and measurement schemes that more adroitly identify individuals who possess critical leadership knowledge, skills, and abilities; and increase the flow of minority and female students into pilot training.
Table of Contents
DE&I Across the Public and Private Sectors: How Do DAF Initiatives Compare?
Impact of Eligibility Requirements and Propensity to Serve on Demographic Representation in the U.S. Air Force
Conducting Community Outreach and Marketing at Earlier Points in the Minority Candidate Pipeline
Maximizing the Return on Investment on DAF ROTC Initiatives at HBCUs and HSIs
Talking About Race and Diversity
What Is Diversity Training?
Implicit Bias in the Workplace: Assessment and Training
Reevaluating Officer Selection to Improve Diversity
Minority Pilot Production in the U.S. Air Force's Major Commissioning Sources
How Demographic Differences in Pilot Training Attrition Relate to Pilot Candidate Selection Method Components
Why Might Black General Officer Representation Continue to Decline in the Near Future?
Leveraging Past Lessons for Future Impact