The Air Force is setting aspirational goals on diversity for those applying to be officers in the service.
The benchmarks increase the number of minorities and women who are serving commissioned positions in the Air Force, a sector that has been traditionally dominated by white men.
The Air Force’s top civilian and military officials are asking the Air Force Academy and Air Education and Training Command to come up with plans to reach the goals by the end of September.
“It is imperative that the composition of our military services better reflect our nation’s highly talented, diverse, and eligible population,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a memo. “This goal continues our progress toward achieving a force more representative of our nation, while leveraging that diversity to enhance the Air and Space Force’s ability to deter, and if necessary, deny our nation’s competitors.”
For the whole force, the service would like officer applicants to hit goals of:
1.5% Native American
0.5% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
15% Hispanic or Latino
The Air Force goals signify the applicant pool would ideally be 64% male and 36% female.
The memo further breaks down goals by gender and race/ethnicity together. The current makeup of the Air Force officer corps is:
23% female and 77% male
0.5% Native American
0.5% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
The rest of the corps declined to respond to racial surveys.
“Our applicant pool goals are intentional, because our investments and outreach to top talent must be intentional,” said Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones in an Aug. 30 statement.
The Air Force, much like the other services, has been putting particular attention of diversity and inclusion since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020.
The service announced the creation of the diversity and inclusion office in early 2021. The purpose of the office is to make the service more equitable, eliminate barriers and find policies and procedures that may be prohibitive.
The Air Force also released a racial disparity review in September 2021. It was an extension of an earlier review done by the service in 2020.
The review found a presence of disparity among races and gender in the ranks.
“Minorities and females are underrepresented in leadership positions, specifically at the senior leader level. Additionally, females and racial-ethnic minority groups were underrepresented in officer accessions, with the greatest disparity in operations career fields,” the Air Force review stated.
The service is making some headway in changing policies that are prohibitive to certain genders and races. The Air and Space Forces are floating the idea of allowing airmen and guardians to grow beards to avoid skin conditions like severe razor burn, which is more prevalent in Black males.
The Air Force recently announced that it is providing lactation areas for nursing airmen on three bases. One base even created a digital map that helps service members find lactation areas.