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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Corps remains focused on diversity

By Master Sgt. Jason Bortz | Marine Corps Recruiting Command | November 04, 2010

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Figure 1 - FY09 Marine Officer Demographics

Figure 1 - FY09 Marine Officer Demographics (Photo by Official Marine Corps Image)


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Figure 2 - FY10 Marine Officer Accessions

Figure 2 - FY10 Marine Officer Accessions (Photo by Official Marine Corps Image)


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The Marine Corps is working to improve its diversity amongst its senior leadership positions, especially within the officer ranks which do not reflect the diversity of contemporary American society.  To ensure the opportunities of the Marine Corps are reaching everyone, Marine Corps Recruiting Command is constantly looking for ways to reach diverse audiences.

The Marine Corps is working to improve its diversity amongst its senior leadership positions, especially within the officer ranks which do not reflect the diversity of contemporary American society. To ensure the opportunities of the Marine Corps are reaching everyone, Marine Corps Recruiting Command is constantly looking for ways to reach diverse audiences. (Photo by Official Marine Corps Photograph)


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Captain Heather Ichord, the officer selection officer for Officer Selection Office Los Angeles, discusses leadership traits with students from the University of Southern California during a Marine Corps Leadership Workshop, Feb. 2. The workshops are one of the methods the Marine Corps uses to find potential Marine officers.  The Marine Corps focus has been working to make its officers ranks more diverse.

Captain Heather Ichord, the officer selection officer for Officer Selection Office Los Angeles, discusses leadership traits with students from the University of Southern California during a Marine Corps Leadership Workshop, Feb. 2. The workshops are one of the methods the Marine Corps uses to find potential Marine officers. The Marine Corps focus has been working to make its officers ranks more diverse. (Photo by Cpl. Zach W. Griffith)


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Diversity is not limited to race, gender or ethnicity; diversity encompasses all differences that make a person unique.  It’s that uniqueness the Marine Corps is looking for, especially in its officers.

Diversity is not limited to race, gender or ethnicity; diversity encompasses all differences that make a person unique. It’s that uniqueness the Marine Corps is looking for, especially in its officers. (Photo by Cpl. Wayne T. Hansen)


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MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- As a whole, the Marine Corps is fairly representative of the Nation’s demographic composition.  However, one area that the Marine Corps is working to improve is diversity amongst its senior leadership positions, especially within the officer ranks.

The value of diversity was described by Gen. James Conway, the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, in his Diversity Policy as, “not only a reflection of the American society we represent, it is also a key element to maintaining the strength and flexibility required to meet today’s national security challenges.  Each individual brings to our team a set of qualities that adds to our overall effectiveness. It is the combination of all of these individual qualities that makes our Marine Corps the strongest in the world.”

Diversity is not limited to race, gender or ethnicity; diversity encompasses all differences that make a person unique.  It’s that uniqueness the Marine Corps is looking for, especially in its officers.

The Marine Corps’ Strategic Vision Group articulated diversity’s operational relevance as, “Diversity provides the Marine Corps the cultural expertise, language skill sets and variety of strategic philosophies needed to meet the operational requirements of the Marine Corps.”

“Diversity is important because it provides our country and Corps with unique and inspirational perspectives. Diversity can create new ideas and changes that are beneficial to mission accomplishment,” said Eric Lindsay, advertising diversity officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.

Diversity is often measured by ethnicity, both in the civilian populace and in the military.   Looking at the nation’s demographics of males and females, 12 percent of the population is African-American, 16 percent is Hispanic and 7 percent consider themselves other. If you look at the Marine Corps demographics in the 2010 U.S. Marine Corps Concepts and Programs, the percentage of minority officers is about half of the nations.  Six percent of Marine officers are African-American, 5.7 percent are Hispanic and 5.9 percent consider themselves other.

See Figure 1.

Twenty years ago, the demographics of the Marine Corps were significantly different than they are today.

In 1990, the total number of enlisted Marines was 176,639.  Of that, 31 percent were minorities, but only 23.6 percent reached the highest enlisted ranks of sergeant major or master gunnery sergeant.  In comparison, there were 18,231 Marine officers in 1990 and 9 percent were minorities.  There were also 70 general officers in 1990, but none were minorities.

Today, the percentage of minority Marines in the senior enlisted ranks and officer corps is better.  In 2009, the Marine Corps’ senior enlisted ranks were composed of 43 percent minorities and it has doubled its number of minority officers to 17.8 percent.  The Marine Corps also has 10 general officers who are minorities.

Despite improvements in some areas, the Marine Corps is still looking to keep its ranks diverse, especially the officer ranks.  Much of this task falls on MCRC, which is responsible for finding qualified men and women to serve in both the enlisted and officer ranks.  The Marine Corps must maintain a balance between having a diverse Corps without adjusting standards or establishing quotas.

For fiscal year 2010, officer accessions for the Marine Corps were 1,703.  Of that, 15.9 percent were classified as minorities with 6.6 percent being Hispanic, 3.5 percent being African-American and 5.8 percent being other.

See Figure 2.

“There are numerous reasons that the Marine Corps has a lower number of minority officers than [some of the other services],” said Capt. Frank Moore, diversity officer, MCRC. “One of the reasons is many minorities are less informed of commissioning opportunities within the Marine Corps and are more familiar with commissioning opportunities of the other services.”

To ensure the opportunities of the Marine Corps are reaching everyone, MCRC is constantly looking for ways to reach diverse audiences.

“[Marine Corps Recruiting Command] continues to develop relationships and partnerships with local and national organizations to bring awareness to opportunities the Corps has to offer while pursuing those highly qualified prospects early to plant the seed of consideration,” said Lindsay.

In one of MCRC’s latest attempts to strengthen diversity numbers for Marine officers, members from MCRC attended the Infinite Scholars Program for the first time where minority students were seeking scholarships and funding for college.   

“[The ISP] is a leading college fair for minority students seeking to gain scholarships and funding for college,” said Lindsay.  “We were able to have face-to-face communications with highly qualified minority students and their parents.”

Another way that MCRC is trying to reach out to a diverse audience is by highlighting the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps through direct mail advertisements.  Thousands of minority high school seniors will receive information in the mail about the NROTC program and how it can help them become a Marine officer.

The NROTC Scholarship offers approximately 560 scholarships a year; which gives students the opportunity to get a college degree and qualify them to become a Marine officer. The scholarship offers to pay full tuition, books and uniforms, along with extra costs associated with being a full-time student, and guarantees a post-college career.

“The NROTC scholarship will provide an additional avenue for [minorities] to attend an institution of higher learning while gaining the benefits of military leadership training,” said Moore. “[Receiving the] NROTC scholarship Marine option information at home will expose many to an opportunity of which they were never aware,” added Moore.

According to Moore, MCRC is always going to events and venues to inform students about scholarship opportunities and to enlighten them about what the Corps has to offer.

Officer selection officers have hosted leadership workshops that focus leadership traits and principles at select colleges and universities.  The results of the forums have been positive and some college professors have even provided excused absences to allow their students to participate.  Officer selection officers have also begun focusing on minority fraternities and sororities because entry requirements and graduation statistics show that many of the members of these organizations are qualified to become Marine officers. 

 “[Marine Corps Recruiting Command] will continue to reach out to local and national organizations to bring awareness to opportunities the Corps has to offer for enlisted and officer programs,” said Lindsay.  “It is the goal of MCRC to arm recruiters and [officer selection officers] with the insights they need to better understand the diverse populations living in their respective recruiting areas.  By doing this, we will attract and retain the talented people needed for enlistment and commissioning in the Marine Corps.”

To help educate influencers who have direct impact on potential Marine officer candidates, the Marine Corps also offers two Key Leader Workshops a year at Quantico, Va.  Key Leaders Workshops are for influencers at colleges and universities to learn about what it means to be a Marine officer.  The Marine Corps has increasingly focused on finding diverse influencers.  The influencers spend a week aboard Quantico learning how a person can become a Marine officer and the lifelong benefits that come with earning that title.

Though efforts by the Marine Corps is greatly improving the numbers in diversity, all Marines should take what they have learned about being a leader and lead others to seek an opportunity to better themselves and their country.

“While MCRC is at the forefront of recruiting for the Marine Corps, we need the help of every Marine in order to strengthen the diversity among our ranks,” said Moore. “Each Marine must share opportunities for commissioning and enlistment with his or her sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces and their communities at large.”



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