Oct 17, 2023
Accurate benchmarks are essential to providing context to observed disparities in diverse representation and analyzing barriers to participation. In this report, the authors describe the construction of career field benchmarks using near-equivalent groups of civilian workers and discuss considerations for interpreting comparisons. These new benchmarks can be incorporated into barrier analysis alongside other benchmarks of demographic diversity.
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The Department of the Air Force (DAF) has placed a strategic focus on improving talent management, including how to build a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. To support the DAF's efforts, in fiscal year 2021, the RAND Corporation's Project AIR FORCE was asked to (1) provide targeted benchmarks and a planning tool that will allow DAF to evaluate the demographic composition of the active-duty workforce overall and functional areas within this workforce and (2) identify practices and opportunities that the DAF can use to support diversity in critical career fields. This report is one of a series of reports meant to address these tasks. In it, the authors describe the construction of career field benchmarks using near-equivalent groups of civilian workers, provide examples using several functional areas, and discuss considerations for interpreting these results. Accompanying this narrative are the Air Force Occupational Diversity Benchmarking Workbooks, a pair of Excel workbooks (one for enlisted personnel and one for officers) containing benchmarks for the demographic distribution of DAF functional areas. The benchmarks are created using civilians working in near-equivalent occupations to DAF occupations, adjusted to account for differences in age and education level between DAF and the civilian workforce. The workbooks contain a menu of benchmark options using both narrow and broad definitions of near equivalent. Each DAF occupation can also be compared to the entire civilian workforce. The authors describe considerations for choosing the most-appropriate civilian comparison group for each occupation and for interpreting comparisons.