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"Project Inclusion" to cut board photos in holistic effort to promote diversity

OceanBonfire

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Starting in August, photos will be eliminated from promotion and selection boards as the Army launches “Project Inclusion” to identify practices that inadvertently discriminate, senior leaders announced Thursday.

The project is a holistic effort to listen to Soldiers, civilians and family members and enact initiatives to promote diversity and equity, according to Secretary of the Army Ryan. D. McCarthy.

Before deciding to eliminate photos from officer, enlisted and warrant officer promotion boards, leaders looked at a 2017-2018 study that determined, regardless of race or gender, people looking at photos will have an unconscious bias toward individuals with similar characteristics, G-1 officials said. Further, they said Department of the Army photos provide minimal information compared to the rest of a promotion board file.

During an experiment in the study, researchers ran two identical promotion boards: one that included photos and one without. In the one that did not contain photos, researchers found that the outcomes for women and minorities improved. The results contributed to the decision to remove the photos.

...


https://www.army.mil/article/236796/project_inclusion_to_cut_board_photos_in_holistic_effort_to_promote_diversity
 

daftandbarmy

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This smells of a desperate, superficial and short term attempt to address deep seated, organizational culture issues in the face of huge pressure from above - and elsewhere.

Even if you remove their photos, you can pretty much tell alot about people and their backgrounds by what you see in writing. Most people aren't that dumb. As a result, conscious and unconscious, biases can continue to run rampant.

There are some suggestions about how to do a better job in this arena, which takes alot more work than removing a photo from a file of course, here:

Toward a Racially Just Workplace

https://hbr.org/cover-story/2019/11/toward-a-racially-just-workplace

Moving Beyond Diversity Toward Racial Equity

https://hbr.org/2020/06/moving-beyond-diversity-toward-racial-equity

Restructure Your Organization to Actually Advance Racial Justice

https://hbr.org/2020/06/restructure-your-organization-to-actually-advance-racial-justice
 

dapaterson

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"The longest journey starts with a single step."

There are many other steps to follow, but I'm willing to be a bit glass half full on this one.
 

Haggis

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daftandbarmy said:
Even if you remove their photos, you can pretty much tell alot about people and their backgrounds by what you see in writing. Most people aren't that dumb. As a result, conscious and unconscious, biases can continue to run rampant.

Given and family names are in many cases a dead giveaway about ethnicity and gender.  Married women actually have an advantage in some cases as their ethnicity can be concealed behind their married surnames. 

Perhaps a better system would be to use only rank, surname and initials on the files. (e.g. LCdr Knightley, I.P.) Remember the "(W)" designator the CF used alongside ranks to identify female members?  Good times! :not-again:
 

Blackadder1916

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It's been thirty years since I had "official" US Army photos taken.  Well, not "official" to the extent that a member of the US Army would have stressed over them; mine were mainly used on the ID card that I was issued while I was down at Fort Sam Houston. But I still had the photographer fussing over me being in the proper uniform, having all awards and decorations properly affixed, and that the final product presented the best possible image of me (some things, however, are beyond the technical and artistic skills of even the most gifted photographer).  They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

They even have an Army Regulation specifically about the photos.

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN19797_R640_30_CC_FINAL.pdf
7. Frequency
a. The following Soldiers will have a photograph taken within 60 days from the date of events listed below.
(1) Selection for promotion to brigadier general or higher.
(2) Promotion to first lieutenant or higher.
(3) Promotion to CW2 or higher.
(4) Initial appointment to CSM.
(5) Promotion to SSG or higher.
(6) Soldiers officially frocked to SGM/CSM by orders issued from HRC.
(7) All other photographs will be taken as needed when announced by selection board zones of consideration.
b. Soldiers will update their photograph at a minimum per the following schedule:
(1) GOs - every three years.
(2) Officers and NCOs - every five years.
(3) RC officers will be photographed during their respective training (that is, BOLC phase III, CCC, and WOBC).
c. A new photograph is required when an award of the Army Commendation Medal or above, a new badge, or a unit
award authorized for permanent wear has been awarded.
d. Soldiers will be required to submit a new photograph when directed by a lieutenant colonel (LTC) or equivalent in
the Soldier's chain of command. This authority is extended to majors serving in LTC command positions. Direction to
4 AR 640–30 • 6 December 2019
submit a new photograph will be based on cogent reason (such as the commander has determined there has been a significant change in the Soldier's appearance). Commanders may not direct their entire unit to submit new photographs.
e. Soldiers assigned to areas where photographic facilities are not available or conditions prevent them from being
photographed are temporarily exempt from the requirements of this paragraph. These Soldiers will be photographed within
90 days after reassignment to an area where photographic facilities are available.
f. Pregnant Soldiers who are due to take an official photograph are exempt from the requirements of this paragraph until
6 months post-partum. However, this does not prevent pregnant Soldiers from taking a photo.
g. Soldiers with approved retirements are exempt from having photographs taken. However, if an application for withdrawal of retirement is approved, the photographs will be updated in accordance with this regulation.
 

Haggis

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Blackadder1916 said:
They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

I'd heard this as well from several US Army and USMC friends.  If you didn't look the part and portray the desired image of an Army or Marine leader, you were cooked.

I think this was also mentioned as a practice we should've adopted in the old "Fat Troops on the Street" thread a few years back.
 

daftandbarmy

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Blackadder1916 said:
It's been thirty years since I had "official" US Army photos taken.  Well, not "official" to the extent that a member of the US Army would have stressed over them; mine were mainly used on the ID card that I was issued while I was down at Fort Sam Houston. But I still had the photographer fussing over me being in the proper uniform, having all awards and decorations properly affixed, and that the final product presented the best possible image of me (some things, however, are beyond the technical and artistic skills of even the most gifted photographer).  They made a big deal of having the best possible photo in service records and my take (from comments from classmates) is that it was an important part of their promotion package - not only did you have to check all the boxes, you had to look the part as well.

They even have an Army Regulation specifically about the photos.

https://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/ARN19797_R640_30_CC_FINAL.pdf

Perfectly superficial  :facepalm:
 

Eaglelord17

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Haggis said:
Given and family names are in many cases a dead giveaway about ethnicity and gender.  Married women actually have an advantage in some cases as their ethnicity can be concealed behind their married surnames. 

Perhaps a better system would be to use only rank, surname and initials on the files. (e.g. LCdr Knightley, I.P.) Remember the "(W)" designator the CF used alongside ranks to identify female members?  Good times! :not-again:

Take the names off the files, put a number on them instead (i.e. 1-100 etc.). After the candidates are selected the numbers are cross referenced to a sheet which has the names alongside the numbers.
 

ModlrMike

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Eaglelord17 said:
Take the names off the files, put a number on them instead (i.e. 1-100 etc.). After the candidates are selected the numbers are cross referenced to a sheet which has the names alongside the numbers.

I have long been of this opinion. The problem is that the higher you go, the harder it gets. For example, in my own case, there's only so many of us NRD XOs.
 

CBH99

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I am 98% certain that Edmonton and Calgary police have adopted this, and first introduced it about 5 years ago.

The applicants are given a number, and that number is used to present the applicant to the selection board by their file manager.  Their scores on various tests, opinions, and any other relevant information is presented as "Applicant 123" scored this, "Applicant 456" scored this, etc etc.

Names are not used, as to not influence the selection board's choices.



(I don't know how successful this approach has been.  Genuine, I just don't know - I'm sure agencies still have certain requirements for diversity hiring.  But in general, from what I've heard through the grapevine, it's been a solid approach.)  :2c:
 

Haggis

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CBH99 said:
Names are not used, as to not influence the selection board's choices.

So how does the Mayor's sister's son get hired now?
 

MJP

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ModlrMike said:
I have long been of this opinion. The problem is that the higher you go, the harder it gets. For example, in my own case, there's only so many of us NRD XOs.
Sure but is the American approach something we need to adopt to fix any mass problems in our approach? Everyone that talks about our board system seems to think highly of it and its fairly impartial approach via honest broker and scrit scoring that drive the selection/ranking. While anecdotes exist for bad selections, is there any basis that our systems needs change?

I will admit it is intriguing to go with a numbered system to test if there is any bias tho.
 

CBH99

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Haggis said:
So how does the Mayor's sister's son get hired now?


haha oh I'm sure he still will be!  :dunno:

They find their way in somehow...
 

Navy_Pete

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MJP said:
Sure but is the American approach something we need to adopt to fix any mass problems in our approach? Everyone that talks about our board system seems to think highly of it and its fairly impartial approach via honest broker and scrit scoring that drive the selection/ranking. While anecdotes exist for bad selections, is there any basis that our systems needs change?

I will admit it is intriguing to go with a numbered system to test if there is any bias tho.

I really don't think that would make that much of a difference on the boards; you are just a number anyway to the impartial member, and their score has to agree with everyone elses. Getting the high profile postings, career courses and the other things that gives you extra points on the promotion boards is a different story, but I don't think there is any good way to both effectively get the right people in the right jobs by managing their careers without the risk of personal bias interfering.

Who doesn't know someone that has gotten screwed by the old boys network, or otherwise maliciously posted/left off a course as a punishment?  Hard to prove, but think a case or two of someone being publicly crucified and having their career derailed for abusing that process would be helpful in reducing that temptation.

The photo thing in the US has always been weird; know of a few people that went to a professional photographer and spent a few thousands on the whole thing to make sure they had the best shot. It's nuts. If someone is a slovenly soup sandwhich, that should get sorted at the unit level, not left to the promotion board.
 

dapaterson

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In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?
 

dimsum

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dapaterson said:
In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?

That's a good point.  Is it a military occupation, or a civilian one?  I can see the argument of making it a DND civilian one so there is even less tie (and potential conflict) with the mafias, but I'm sure the regt mafia won't like that.

Does the trade of the CM have any bearing on what they do?  I've heard complaints that "the CM doesn't know anything about my trade" when the smaller trades have 1 CM for 2-3 trades.
 

SeaKingTacco

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dapaterson said:
In France, Career Manager is its own occupation.  They are trained to do the work, and less subject to regimental / branch mafias pulling favours.

Is that the sort of model we should be looking at adopting?

Maybe, but I would also be concerned for unintended side effects like creating a whole new “mafia”, beholden to no one and maybe personally uninvested in the military consequences of their decisions on a particular occupation.

From what I have seen on the civvie side, So called HR professionals are not magic, either. They give bad, tepid and timid advice, too.
 

Good2Golf

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SeaKingTacco said:
...
From what I have seen on the civvie side, So called HR professionals are not magic, either. They give bad, tepid and timid advice, too.

^ this.....x1000 :nod:

Much focus is on HR-related buzzword boilerplate...and real challenges, such as addressing administrative or personnel challenges isn’t dealt with substantively for fear of appearing ‘counter-HR’.  I generally see things only get addressed substantively when it becomes painfully (cringingly)  obvious to most people with a pulse that something needs to be done.

Having seen the civilian(ized) ‘panacea’ not working out in Several areas of practice as theoretically intended (or briefed with warm, fuzzy, convincing PPT), I’m skeptical. Either it should be a MOSID, or just outright contracted out on short-term, rolling performance-based contracts.  The mere thought of a PS-based HR equivalent of Shared Services Canada makes me despair.

:2c:
 

dimsum

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Good2Golf said:
Either it should be a MOSID, or just outright contracted out on short-term, rolling performance-based contracts.  The mere thought of a PS-based HR equivalent of Shared Services Canada makes me despair.

Good point.  Although the CM trade would probably be neck-in-neck with the MP trade as the most hated trade in the CAF  ;)
 
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