MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
As the Marine Corps remains focused on finding highly qualified young men and women from diverse backgrounds to become one of the few and proud, Marine Corps Recruiting Command has begun an All Community Approach (ACA). The ACA is a new initiative that focuses on increasing awareness of the many career opportunities the Corps offers.
The ACA, created by Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, commanding general, MCRC, is designed to build relationships between the Corps and diverse communities. This goal will be accomplished by reaching out to civic and business leaders and young men and women who may not know what scholarship and career opportunities are available to them through the Marine Corps.
“This approach of engaging diversity recruiting venues and events seeks to broaden the opportunity for the Marine Corps to engage the local community beyond just the transactional discussions of recruiting,” said Maj. Gen. Bailey. “The All Community Approach seeks to improve the opportunities for Recruiting Station commanders and officer selection officers to have access to community influencers and leaders who are best positioned to assist them in their recruiting efforts.”
By using this approach, the desire is to increase the overall diversity of the Marine Corps.
“This program is focused on diversity,” said Lt. Col. Chester L. McMillon, head of officer programs, MCRC. “Diversity is important to the Marine Corps because it gives us credibility if we reflect the diverse society we serve.”
The Marine Corps’ effort to increase diversity, especially among Marine officers, is why the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., was chosen as the first place to use this community outreach program.
The CIAA is a Division II athletic conference featuring 13 historically black colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. The tournament takes place annually during the last week of February and first week of March and draws up to 170,000 people.
“We’ve put a focus on building a more diverse group of officers,” said McMillon. “The diversity of Marine officers lags behind enlisted personnel.”
According to demographics in the 2010 U.S. Marine Corps Concepts and Programs, six percent of Marine officers are African-American, 5.7 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent consider themselves other. These figures represent half of the percentage of these minorities in our nation’s population. In comparison, 43 percent of senior enlisted personnel are minorities.
“In the past, we would focus on events,” said McMillon. “With the ACA, we go beyond the event and focus on connecting with the whole community.”
During the CIAA, rather than focusing on raising awareness of the Corps solely at CIAA events, three distinct areas of operation were established to give the Marines there a much broader reach; these were the tournament itself, the surrounding Charlotte community and the 13 schools in the CIAA.
In addition to the Marine Corps presence at the tournament itself, Marines took steps to engage the surrounding community and generate more awareness of the Corps’ mission and the opportunities available to the most highly qualified individuals.
“As part of the ACA, officer selection officers contact key influencers, such as community leaders and school officials, and invite them to events such as a breakfast,” said McMillon. “Our goal is to educate them about different opportunities the Marine Corps offers.”
Marines followed this step of the ACA by engaging students, community leaders, business leaders and politicians in the Charlotte area. An example of this was a center of influence luncheon hosted by Maj. Gen. Bailey that included guests such as Charlotte politicians, local business leaders and CIAA university presidents.
According to Eric Lindsay, advertising diversity officer, MCRC, this is the first time in recent years the recruiting command has tried to actively engage such a large and diverse group of people at one time.
“We’ve approached it this way to ensure widespread awareness of our message,” said Lindsay.
With the lessons learned from the debut of the ACA, MCRC will engage the St. Louis community during Marine Week St. Louis in June and the New Orleans community during the Bayou Classic in November.