In last week’s blog, I hailed the repeal of the US Military’s “Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell” policy which occurred late last year. The US Congress, which voted to repeal this policy, finally understands what most major US businesses have long ago understood – that the most successful enterprises will have no barriers to entry, which allows the best talent from the widest possible pool can be considered.
So now gay men and women can enlist in the US military and be open about who they are. Now what? Is the work over? Certainly not! There is a lot of hard work ahead! After we are able to add GLBT talent to the US military, we need to work hard to keep them there and working at their peak capacity.
First, solid training will be required from the top of the US military through to every service member. Everyone needs to be taught to refrain from GLBT offensive behavior, including crude GL BT slurs and jokes. And then people need to learn how to best address and include GLBT people in every day interaction – including using more inclusive language like “spouse” and “partner” in addition to “husband” and “wife.” The culture needs to become one that is welcoming and nurturing to all so that every member of the team can contribute their best. A recent Associated Press article already stated that the US Army has started this training and hope to have it completed by every Army member by August.
Next, many of the military programs need to be examined for full inclusivity. Areas could include the provision of “married housing” to same-gender couples and support structures for spouses of service members.
And finally, this could then have ramifications on the military’s thousands of suppliers of products and services, especially since many of the suppliers interact directly with military personnel. For those suppliers who have not fully embraced total inclusivity of GLBT people, education and change implementation will be required.
I stand ready as a consultant with my leadership experience in one the world’s leading GLBT-inclusive companies to assist our military and their suppliers in any way I can.