Coast Guard Under Fire For Lack Of Diversity, Seeks Out Blacks

by Jonah Bennett

The Coast Guard is desperately trying to correct its demographic makeup after coming under fire due to lack of diversity, by reaching out to a university to increase its number of black servicemembers.

Plans are in the works to send more servicemembers to Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina and to develop a closer relationship with the military affairs officer at the institution, which is historically black, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

In comparison to the other services, the Coast Guard’s black demographic for active-duty servicemembers is only 5.4 percent, compared to a combined figure of 17.2 percent for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Army.

The Coast Guard does have some other minorities, which brings its non-white figure to 14.8 percent of the force, but again compared to the other services at 31.2 percent, the Coast Guard is quite white.

Lt. Patrick Bennett, manager of the Coast Guard’s College Student Pre-commissioning Initiative scholarships program, speculated that one of the reasons for fewer blacks in the Coast Guard might be because the service doesn’t spend as much money on marketing.

For Lt. Cmdr. Julie Rodriguez, who services with the Coast Guard Office of Diversity and Inclusion, it’s imperative to increase minorities because doing so apparently brings “fresh ideas” to the table.

“We have a stronger, better Coast Guard to respond to complex situations.”

Rodriguez did not, however, provide any concrete percentage goals for minority recruitment.

The Coast Guard has a diversity and inclusion strategic plan for the period of 2015-2018 designed to bring in more minorities. The idea is to come up with a strong set of strategies to funnel minorities into senior-level positions.

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