Commentary | June 23, 2021

Commandant outlines diversity and inclusion progress, goals

Editor's Note: You can view the entire hearing on the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee website. Below are the Commandant's introductory remarks, as prepared.

TESTIMONY OF ADMIRAL KARL L. SCHULTZ COMMANDANT OF THE COAST GUARD ON “Building the Coast Guard America Needs: Achieving Diversity, Equity, and Accountability within the Service” BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

JUNE 23, 2021

Introduction

Advancing and sustaining the Diversity and Inclusion acumen of a 55,000-person organization requires strategic direction and sustained focus and engagement from all levels. The Coast Guard’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) identifies tangible actions to improve Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), measure outcomes, hold leadership accountable, and most importantly, equip unit commanders with a standard set of resources to promote a diverse and inclusive working environment.

Our plan guides the development of individual and organizational understanding and skills through dialogue. The guiding principles found in the DIAP aid leaders and members in understanding responsibilities, tools, and capabilities of the Coast Guard to culminate in strengthened, inclusive leadership, diversity, and improved accountability. The DIAP formalizes the Coast Guard’s continued dedication to the assessment and development of policies and procedures. It also develops workforce training to help drive organizational change and lead to more inclusive behaviors. To facilitate these efforts, we prioritized the training and deployment of Diversity Change Agents. These Change Agents provide diversity and inclusion training, coaching, and support to the total workforce; provide command cadre coaching and counsel; and support the fostering of an organizational culture that values respect, diversity, equity, and inclusion. By the end of this summer, the Coast Guard will have 125 Change Agents fully trained and able to lead unit-level training. 

While the DIAP represents bold steps to promote diversity and inclusion, we continue to assess our programs for equitable outcomes. Recent improvements to our College Student Pre-Commissioning (CSPI) program were implemented to create more diversity within the officer ranks. CSPI targets minority serving institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions. MSIs set up a pathway for a larger pool of candidates to be exposed to the Coast Guard and the CSPI program. They provide visibility of Coast Guard missions to students who are eligible for the CSPI program, open doors for recruiters to develop relationships with students and staff at colleges and universities and provide financial support through the Student Loan Repayment Program. The Coast Guard recently created a new officer recruiting branch which will stand up this summer. These active duty officer recruiters were added to offices in key locations around the country including Washington, D.C., Hampton Roads, Atlanta, Miami, and New Orleans to specifically enhance the CSPI program.

The Women’s Retention Study and Holistic Analysis, delivered in March 2019 and undertaken in partnership with RAND’s Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, included 191 focus groups with 1,010 active-duty women and 128 active-duty men. The study results identified several factors impacting retention of women and the entire workforce. Based on recommendations from the study we quickly implemented several workforce initiatives to improve equitable outcomes for women. We updated our parental leave policy allowing for up to 114 days of leave (up to 30 days of prenatal leave, 42 days of medical convalescent leave, and 42 days of primary caregiver leave) to be granted to the primary caregiver, and created a program where Coast Guard Reservists can be called to backfill Active Duty members when they go on prenatal, maternity convalescent, and primary caregiver leave. This program sustains unit readiness while best supporting our members with parental responsibilities. We improved uniform and grooming standards, capturing changes recommended from women serving in front line operations.