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DOD Crowdsources Efforts to Promote Diversity, Inclusion

Gerald Scroop

August 24, 2020

The Defense Department is crowdsourcing to find better ways to promote diversity and inclusion.

Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper asked for the process as part of his Board on Diversity and Inclusion. The board – chaired by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett — wants input from service members and DOD civilians, and crowdsourcing is one tool they will use.

For those not familiar with the concept, crowdsourcing is the practice of using the internet as a source of information and solutions. Service members and DOD civilians can participate through Oct. 16.

"The secretary wants to hear from all of our service members about what the DOD can do to improve diversity and inclusion," said Marine Corps Maj. Sharon A. Sisbarro, a member of the board's  support office. 

The board members didn't want to do yet another survey, Sisbarro said. "We adopted a kind of crowdsourcing-like model, where we just said, 'Tell us what we need to do,'" she added.

Two men sit across the table from each other and talk.

Personnel with a DOD common access card can participate in the crowdsourcing effort, she said. "Even though you need a CAC to get in, the comments are anonymous," she emphasized.

The effort is a recognition that the old ways of doing things have taken the department as far as it can go, the major explained, and new ideas are needed to continue the process of inclusion and to promote diversity in the ranks.

This is an effort to create a better culture within the department, Sisbarro said. The board will look at a range of issues, from grooming standards to first-person experience sharing about the reality of life as a minority, she explained.

A military officer gestures as he speaks.

Some Fortune 500 companies use crowdsourcing to foster innovation and speed adoption of ideas, Sisbarro noted, and this is the first effort on the DOD level.

Service members and civilians interested in offering their ideas and solutions can go to the site at https://www.milsuite.mil/book/defense-diversity.

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