WASHINGTON (AFNS) —
Pride Month is a time to come together to honor contributions of LGBTQ+ service members, Deputy Secretary of Defense says Kathleen H. Hickswho spoke at the 11th LBGTQ+ Pride Ceremony at the Pentagon on June 7.
As President Joe Biden recently said, Pride Month is a time to remind the LGBTQ+ community that they are valued and deserve dignity, respect and support, she said.
The Department of Defense strives to be at the forefront of issues related to the diversityequity, inclusion and accessibility, including for LGBTQ+ people, she said.
“The DoD is committed to ensuring and promoting an atmosphere of dignity and respect for all civilian and military personnel. We strive to make the Department of Defense a workplace of choice for all willing and qualified Americans to serve. In doing so, we are establishing a fundamental foundation where all staff are valued and given an equal opportunity to succeed,” she said.
Recruiting, developing and retaining a highly skilled and diverse military and civilian workforce is critical to the success of American warfare, she said.
“The department should not and cannot be a place that discourages exceptional LGBTQ+ individuals from pursuing DoD careers due to real or perceived barriers to entry or hostile working conditions,” she said. .
In September 2011, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed, allowing LGBTQ+ service members and civilians to acknowledge their sexual orientation and serve openly. In September, the DoD commemorated the 10th anniversary of that repeal, she said.
“We will continue to advance policies and programs to develop and nurture a diverse talent pool and create pathways for everyone in DoD to realize their potential. We know that organizational climates affect the experiences of our workforce. Specifically, it affects our Therefore, we are leading initiatives to improve leadership skills development and foster more effective and inclusive team environments,” Hicks said.
The department is developing a diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility strategic plan to guide and direct activities to advance these initiatives within the department, she said.
This plan is in the final stages of approval and will identify DoD priorities and goals for the coming year, Hicks said.
Progress will not be driven by policies and programs alone; it will also result from the individual actions each person takes every day, she said.
“America’s diversity is undoubtedly one of our greatest strengths. Many here today have fought hard to overcome bigotry and be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to every human being. “, said Hicks.
Pride month is a time to celebrate progress, and it’s also a time for the department, the nation and the world to recognize the challenges that remain and reaffirm our commitment to equality for LGBTQ+ people, she said.