The U.S. Coast Guard released its first large-scale study on women’s retention in 30 years Thursday. The service commissioned the study as part of its commitment to create a more mission-ready workforce.
The RAND Corporation report, “Improving Gender Diversity in the U.S. Coast Guard: Identifying Barriers to Female Retention,” examined the root causes of women’s attrition and potential barriers to retention, as well as provided recommendations. One area for improvement and continual focus is our inclusivity. Shortly after becoming Commandant in June 2018, Adm. Karl L. Schultz established an innovative, standalone team, the “Personnel Readiness Task Force,” charged with turning ideas into actionable changes that better the Coast Guard workforce, with a primary focus on implementing the study’s recommendations.
“As I emphasized in my State of the Coast Guard Address, the Coast Guard aspires to be an employer of choice. This study will help drive key areas for improvement for women’s retention in the Service,” said Adm. Schultz.
Based on these findings, the study recommended initiatives to improve women’s retention regardless of marital and parental status. It also recommended actions to retain a diverse workforce, such as updating its personnel management systems, augmenting workforce gaps during parental leave and expanding opportunities for comprehensive leadership development training.
“Although the Coast Guard enjoys one of the highest retention rates among the five military branches, we must do better,” said Adm. Charles W. Ray, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard. “This study is an important element in our broader effort to recruit and retain an inclusive and diverse workforce that reflects the American public we serve. It is every leader’s responsibility to identify and eliminate elements of our culture that may inhibit equal participation and opportunity in our Service.”
The Coast Guard’s senior leadership has made inclusion a top priority, launching a collection of early initiatives to address issues of greatest importance to servicemembers. Many early changes focused on supporting women and families and addressing sexual assault and harassment. The Personnel Readiness Task Force is exploring additional forward-leaning policy changes that disproportionately affect women and underrepresented minorities, including easing existing tattoo restrictions, removing single-parent disqualifiers, and revising outdated weight standards.
Additional information on the study can be found at https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2770.html.