3
Building a Diverse Work Force

To build a more diverse work force, an organization needs to enhance two critical aspects: the process by which employees are recruited and hired, and the environment in which they work. Creating and maintaining a supportive and productive work environment and providing opportunities for employee development are as important in retaining quality employees as is the process of recruiting them.

Recruitment and Hiring

The committee gathered information on ONR's recruitment and hiring practices from several sources. The Office of Human Resources within ONR provided extensive background information and sample materials describing current recruitment and hiring policies and practices. They also permitted examination of 13 files documenting recent hiring actions of scientists and engineers into ONR. In addition, personal interviews with program officers and senior executives yielded important insights into the attitudes and beliefs that underlie hiring decisions.

The Current Process

A division or department head, otherwise known as the selecting official, initiates the hiring process and obtains approval from management and the ONR Office of Human Resources. Beyond the required vacancy announcements, the program officer or division head is responsible for deciding where to advertise. Once applications are received, the selection involves decisions at five levels:

Preliminary Review

A staffing specialist and a subject matter expert examine each applicant's file to determine who is qualified. For each qualified applicant, the staffing specialist then determines the grade level based on the applicant's prior experience and other qualifications.

Rating and Review Panel

The list of qualified applicants and their supporting documents are forwarded to a rating and review panel, usually appointed by the selecting official. Panel members rate each applicant separately and then meet as a group to



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3 Building a Diverse Work Force To build a more diverse work force, an organization needs to enhance two critical aspects: the process by which employees are recruited and hired, and the environment in which they work. Creating and maintaining a supportive and productive work environment and providing opportunities for employee development are as important in retaining quality employees as is the process of recruiting them. Recruitment and Hiring The committee gathered information on ONR's recruitment and hiring practices from several sources. The Office of Human Resources within ONR provided extensive background information and sample materials describing current recruitment and hiring policies and practices. They also permitted examination of 13 files documenting recent hiring actions of scientists and engineers into ONR. In addition, personal interviews with program officers and senior executives yielded important insights into the attitudes and beliefs that underlie hiring decisions. The Current Process A division or department head, otherwise known as the selecting official, initiates the hiring process and obtains approval from management and the ONR Office of Human Resources. Beyond the required vacancy announcements, the program officer or division head is responsible for deciding where to advertise. Once applications are received, the selection involves decisions at five levels: Preliminary Review A staffing specialist and a subject matter expert examine each applicant's file to determine who is qualified. For each qualified applicant, the staffing specialist then determines the grade level based on the applicant's prior experience and other qualifications. Rating and Review Panel The list of qualified applicants and their supporting documents are forwarded to a rating and review panel, usually appointed by the selecting official. Panel members rate each applicant separately and then meet as a group to

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try to reach consensus on any numbers on the rating sheet that have a significant variance. The panel determines the cutoff points for ''best qualified'' and "qualified" applicants and decides whom to refer to the selecting official. Selecting Official The selecting official decides whether to interview and, if so, whom to interview. The official can conduct the interview(s) alone or invite others. After the interview(s) the selecting official decides whom to recommend for hiring and prepares a letter of nomination. Science and Technology Advisory Board (STAB) The proposed candidate makes a presentation to the STAB, which is composed of the department heads (or their designated representatives) plus the Deputy Chief of Naval Research. STAB makes a recommendation to the Deputy Chief of Naval Research. Final Approval The Deputy Chief of Naval Research makes the final hiring decision. Recent Hiring Actions An analysis of recent hiring actions in ONR provides some useful insights into how the process works. As indicated above, the committee reviewed detailed data compiled from 13 "case files" of hiring actions for scientists and engineers completed between January 1, 1993, and December 31, 1995. (Summary data on these 13 case files are found in Appendix B.) Among these 13 cases the process of advertising and recruitment was highly variable. In two cases, there was no recruitment: no vacancy announcement was prepared or advertised, and the individual selected (in both cases a male) was the only candidate. In four cases, applications were limited to current Navy or DoD employees, and three out of four of those were advertised only in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The remaining seven cases showed evidence of open recruitment (outside the DoD), and six of the openings in this group were advertised nationally. Of the 13 cases, two showed evidence of having been advertised in journals or with associations of particular interest to women and minorities. Of the nine cases where the job vacancy was advertised and the number of applications is known, the committee was able to identify a total of 210 applications, or about 23 per position. The actual number of applicants ranged from less than five for positions open only to Navy personnel in the local region to 50 for nationwide searches. Of the 210 applicants, 34 or 16 percent were female. No data were available on the race or disability status of the applicants since collection of that information is not required. As indicated above, the hiring process at ONR requires that a rating and review panel examine the applications of all "qualified" candidates, rate them, and make recommendations to the Selecting Official. Because this is such a critical step in the selection process, the committee was especially interested in the composition of these panels and the actions of the selecting officials. In nine of the hiring actions, a rating and review panel of two to five

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people had been used. Three of the nine panels included a female panel member, one of whom was from outside ONR headquarters. The data do not reveal whether any panel member was disabled or came from a minority group. To the committee's knowledge, all Selecting Officials were white males. Opinions About Recruitment and Hiring In their interviews, senior executives and male program officers expressed similar views about the recruitment and hiring of minorities and women (see Appendix C). Many stated that ONR was "bending over backwards" to promote diversity, but that there was an inadequate supply of minority and female applicants nationally. Others expressed concern that hiring more minorities and women would dilute the strength of the ONR work force and lower quality. Some senior executives explained that women and minority senior scientists and engineers who are "stars" in their fields will not want to give up work in their field to be administrators or to work for the federal government, and that most of those qualified to work at ONR are competed for successfully by industry or academia. Some senior executives believed that diversity will strengthen ONR and that more aggressive measures need to be taken to recruit and hire women and minorities. These individuals cited examples of the beneficial effects of diversity within their own units. Female program officers were generally more skeptical about ONR's recruitment efforts. While they agreed that there were few female applicants for positions, some believed that an adequate effort to recruit outside the organization was rarely made. Others observed that women do not apply for senior-level jobs at ONR. because they believe the positions are "hardwired" for men and that women's careers do not always fit the traditional male molds. None of the women interviewed reported having served on an ONR rating and review panel, although several of their male counterparts did. Findings and Conclusions Although the number of recent hiring actions that the committee was able to examine is small, they do suggest several areas of concern. Recruitment efforts appear to be very uneven and quite dependent on the preference of the selecting official, including whether there will be recruitment at all, how open it will be, and how much advertising will be done. In the two cases examined where there was no recruitment and a white male was hired, there was no opportunity for women or minorities even to apply. Positions that were advertised only in the Washington, D.C. area or restricted to individuals already in the Navy had little chance of attracting a diverse pool of applicants, especially for senior positions. Similarly, the committee could find little evidence of concerted efforts to bring women or minorities into the recruitment pools. Advertising was generally limited to a few standard venues, some of which are mandated. Given the current job market, the total number of applications for many of these positions was surprisingly low. In the experience of committee members, the hiring of scientists and engineers in industry or academia may generate several hundred

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applications. Recent hiring actions in the Characterization Science and Services section of Coming, Inc., for example, yielded 600 applicants for two Ph.D. chemist positions. In 1995, the University of Virginia received 142 applications for a faculty position in structural engineering, and the University of California at Berkeley received 179 applications for an assistant professorship in chemistry. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reports receiving 250-400 applications per year for typically a single opening in computer science. The number of applications for academic positions, of course, may be inordinately high, given the large number of Ph.D.s seeking such employment. Although three of the nine rating and review panels contained a woman, none contained a minority or a person with disability, to the committee's knowledge, and none of the ONR female program officers said they had served on any of these panels. The committee was also struck by the authority vested in the selecting official who can decide whether or not to interview anyone, whom to interview, and whom to recommend. Although a single manager may often make the hiring recommendations, the process by which those decisions are made should be controlled by appropriate checks and balances. The committee also believes that the STAB should make its hiring recommendations in the absence of the Deputy Chief of Naval Research since that individual makes the final hiring decision. The picture drawn by these hiring actions is not consistent with the view expressed by some senior executives and program officers that ONR is "bending over backwards" to promote diversity. The concern that minority and women "stars" especially would not come to work at ONR is impossible to assess since the committee found no evidence that any efforts had been made to recruit individuals in this category. If senior ONR managers believe that ONR is not now competitive with academia or industry for top scientists and engineers, they may want to develop ways to change that impression. The belief held by some that increased diversity means lower quality will inhibit their ability to recruit effectively. ONR has made progress in recruiting a more diverse work force, but the committee believes there are many resources that have not yet been tapped. Although substantial effort is required in the recruitment of minorities and women, such an effort can be successful. The Work Environment The committee's understanding of the work environment for ONR scientists and engineers is based primarily on answers to the survey questionnaire and the individual interviews summarized in Appendix C. Comments on the most significant aspects of the findings follow. Almost everyone reported working long hours, with many working over 60 hours a week; the senior executives reported the greatest number of hours worked. Nearly everyone at every level experienced stress; they felt they are overworked and lack adequate staff support. Nevertheless, most reported that ONR is the best job they have ever had. In general, the women were less satisfied than the men, except in the area of income. Many women believed they are treated as second-class citizens, and some saw the work environment as hostile. Some

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believed they control fewer research dollars, even within the same disciplinary groups. Long-term female employees were generally less pleased than recently hired female employees. Some of the women with Ph.D.s were the least pleased, as they saw few professional growth opportunities, less use of their abilities, and less harmony between their personal and professional lives. Many program officers reported not understanding the criteria for promotion. Some women were interested in promotion to the senior executive level but were not hopeful. They suggested that being an "acting head" of a division might be a route to promotion but that few women had held those positions. Male program officers, while sharing some of the complaints of their female colleagues, generally expressed a sanguine attitude toward the organization. Like senior executives, many believed that ONR was doing what it could to increase diversity, and that there was no overt discrimination. The male program officers differed from the senior executives, however, in expressing during the interviews more negative stereotypes about non-whites and women. In general, white males saw the environment as supportive. Senior executives were more satisfied with their jobs than were the program officers. They were aware the environment is competitive, but they were unaware that women see the work environment as hostile. Most saw no difference in the treatment given to women and minorities from that given to them. A number of program officers, especially women, described an atmosphere in job interviews, briefings, meetings, and competition for funds that was "aggressive," "hostile," "combative,'' and ''divisive." They stated that this atmosphere was unsupportive and unproductive, and some said that they were denied opportunities to give briefings presumably because their style was not aggressive enough. While senior executives agreed that diversity would strengthen the scientific enterprise by introducing divergent perspectives and experiences, many were emphatically committed to the adversarial or confrontational approach. They believed that this approach is necessary to argue successfully for one's budget priorities in an era of shrinking resources and in a critical and sometimes hostile bureaucratic environment. ONR leadership seemed especially committed to the adversarial interview for job candidates, asserting that this kind of hurdle is essential to finding the right people. Some senior executives noted that women do at least as well as their male counterparts in challenging and confronting others, and they insisted that the climate is the same for males and females, minorities, and non-minorities—"hard on everyone." Other senior executives did not acknowledge that such an atmosphere even exists. The committee identified some other aspects of the ONR work environment which, though not directly related to the diversity issues under discussion here, do affect the work environment and productivity of ONR employees. Some nonwhite males cited examples of where they felt they were not given the same opportunities as white males. Also, a number of employees from the former Office of Naval Technology (ONT) and Office of Applied Technology (OAT) believed they were treated as second-class citizens, reinforcing the tension between the culture of basic research (6.1) and applied research and development (6.2 and 6.3).

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The current ONR culture is dominated by basic research and by the Ph.D. degree; 22 out of 23 senior executives hold the doctorate, and 17 were managers of predominantly basic research programs prior to the merger of ONR, ONT, and OAT. At the same time, the Navy is promoting more application of research to its technical needs, and applied research and development funds represent over 70 percent of ONR's annual budget. In the interviews, program officers, but especially senior executives, identified differences in education, knowledge of the Navy, and research philosophy as divisive issues to be overcome in the new, consolidated ONR. Attitudes Toward Diversity There are divergent views on diversity within ONR. Most employees recognized that with the downsizing of ONR diversification will be difficult because there are few opportunities to hire. Among senior executives, diversity was an issue that had to do almost exclusively with recruitment and hiring, rather than with the work environment. Many male program officers and senior executives alike believed that ONR is doing what it can to diversify its work force, as discussed in the section on "Recruitment and Hiring." By contrast, female program officers pointed out numerous aspects of ONR's current work environment and climate that were not conducive to the retention and development of minorities and women. Findings and Conclusions The work environment for scientists and engineers at ONR is dominated by individuals who are white, male, and have a long association with the Navy. It is also dominated by scientists with doctoral degrees. Given the history of ONR and the long tenure of some of its senior personnel, this environment is what one might expect, and this kind of work force has served ONR well for many years. It may not be serving ONR's current needs as well, however. A number of scientists and engineers do not relate to the prevailing management style and perceive that they have a difficult time at ONR. They clearly like their work, but they do not see the opportunities for advancement and support that allow them to use their full capacities. This may have a negative impact on ONR's ability to recruit high quality people. Some of the differences in perceptions between men and women are striking. While these perceptions can in no way be attributed to every woman or every man at ONR, they were expressed by enough members of each group to be noteworthy. Whether fact or perception, such significant differences in employees' views of the same organization are counterproductive and undermine the ability of the agency to function as an integrated unit. Providing a work environment that is supportive of all employees, not just those in the dominant groups, is critical to productivity. For S&E organizations that have been successful in recruiting and retaining professional women, a key element appears to be some type of support system. "Buddy systems," where an individual is matched formally or informally with a more senior employee, are used by Coming,

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Xerox, Apple, Aerospace, and several laboratories of the Department of Energy to create a supportive environment for women. The buddy system can provide mentoring on a one-to-one basis or make available a "council" of advisors. It can also provide a formal group which interfaces with management on issues that affect women. At AT&T, the Employee Counseling Service provides private and confidential counseling sessions for all employees and consults with management about special organizational issues. By presenting special programs on work place issues that impact women, it is able to affect the environment of the entire organization. The issue of the adversarial climate is a complex one. The committee recognizes that styles of communication are very personal and individual, and that ONR is an organization with a military-oriented mission. However, its scientists and engineers are primarily civilians, and a style which alienates or intimidates employees is counterproductive. The committee does not believe that an adversarial, aggressive style of communicating is necessary to being effective in garnering dollars or managing a large research program, however hostile the environment. Being prepared and knowing how to make an effective, articulate argument are necessary. In the past two decades, many corporations have recognized the value of and adopted a more open, tolerant style and culture as they have learned how critical their human resources are to productivity. Organizations that are successful in attracting and retaining women have an integrated approach to diversity. For example, at Apple the intent is to develop programs and interventions that support diversity at all phases of the employment cycle, including sourcing, recruiting, interviewing, orientation/acculturation, coaching, and development/promotion. To provide a more supportive climate for diversity, ONR will need to make changes throughout the organization. Changes to the work environment are perhaps the most difficult because they require changes in human behavior, but they are as critical as recruitment and hiring to long-term success. ONR Efforts to Increase Diversity The Office of Naval Research has initiated a number of activities in the past two years to increase the diversity of its S&E work force. In December 1994, the Deputy Chief of Naval Research chartered the Ad Hoc Diversity Working Group to examine this issue and propose appropriate action. The group recommended a two-pronged approach: (1) create an organizational climate that will provide opportunities for more meaningful participation by the targeted groups in all science and technology activities at ONR, and (2) implement initiatives to enhance recruitment and retention efforts for these groups. In March 1995, the Chief of Naval Research disseminated an ONR Diversity Plan. He also created an ONR Diversity Committee under the STAB to study ONR diversity issues, demographics, and trends; to provide recommendations; and to measure and track progress.

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ONR Diversity Plan ONR leadership and the Diversity Committee are to be commended for their comprehensive Diversity Plan. It is thoughtful, comprehensive, and realistic in outlining the critical elements of a successful strategy to increase diversity. The committee is also impressed with the speed with which several of the elements of the plan have been implemented (see the section following on "New Initiatives"). As requested, this committee has a number of observations about individual elements of the plan. Issue "All-Hands" Policy. The committee agrees that issuing a policy sanctioned by senior staff is critical to the process of institutionalizing diversity as a value and of establishing diversity programs as essential to ONR's success. This approach can be strengthened by placing it in a strategic context with ONR's other goals to ensure that this policy is communicated clearly and consistently and that it has real impact on the dally lives of ONR employees. Training. (See the discussion under "New Initiatives.") Internal Communications. The committee applauds the idea of increasing internal ONR communications on all subjects. Issues related to diversity should be incorporated into standard ONR electronic newsletters or memos, however, rather than communicated through separate means, in order to reinforce the notion that diversity is central to ONR's culture and business. External Communications. The proposal to enlarge distribution of ONR press releases and external reports, for example, to improve access to target groups is an excellent demonstration of using existing practices to promote diversity. To ensure the success of this proposal, ONR must first understand the impact of its current external communication practices on hiring (e.g., How have candidates traditionally learned about ONR and opportunities for employment there?). When this is understood, similar methods can be employed with the target groups, paying careful attention to which media are selected. Professional associations representing the target groups can be very helpful in this process. Mentoring Program. (See the discussion under "New Initiatives.") Departmental Plans. Requiring each department to develop a diversity plan is an excellent goal that will be a critical component in institutionalizing diversity as a core value and common practice in ONR. Allowing for flexibility in implementation is important to cultivating a sense of ownership of diversity practices within each department and to creating initiatives that are appropriate for each group. Advertising. Extending the distribution of vacancy announcements to target populations is important but will not outweigh the factors that normally attract people to an organization, such as word-of-mouth information about working conditions and referrals when vacancies occur. In this context, more attention needs to be placed on creating

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an environment that supports a diverse population and is therefore attractive to a larger portion of the labor pool. Allowing potential candidates access to individuals who belong to the target population within ONR is an excellent way to introduce the organization to interested scientists and engineers. Meetings. Expanding ONR representation at conferences and conventions focusing on target groups is an excellent way to bridge the gap between ONR and scientists and engineers from target groups. Each event in which ONR participates, however, is only a milestone along the road of establishing an ongoing relationship with professional organizations that focus on minority or female scientists and engineers. ONR should assign a contact person for each such relevant organization and seek ways to support and communicate with the organization between events. Networks. Providing an Internet home page for members of target groups may be useful, but the plan does not provide a description of how it would work. A related issue to consider is how to encourage members of target groups to utilize information sources currently available to all. Contacts. The proposed plan of utilizing members of target groups with established relationships with ONR as points-of-contact in their communities is an excellent use of resources and should help strengthen the desired ongoing relationships. IPAs. The plan includes the establishment of eight new positions for IPAs in ONR departments to be filled by members of target groups. This approach addresses two barriers to increasing the representation of target groups in ONR: low turnover and lack of effective outreach to target groups. The proposed IPA positions may facilitate more aggressive recruitment within target groups. If these special IPA positions are filled, careful attention should be given to how these special hires are introduced into the organization. New Initiatives In slightly over a year, the ONR Diversity Committee has identified many useful ways to increase the representation of target groups. Included among them are new initiatives in four areas: diversity training, rotational assignments, mentoring, and recruitment and relocation bonuses. Diversity Training Training is helpful to ensure that common skills and knowledge are shared throughout the organization. However, without the opportunity for practical application of these skills and knowledge, it can become more of a theoretical concept and less of a value to the organization. Given the work force composition in ONR, generalized diversity training seems premature. Training needs to evolve as the organization changes. A more effective approach might be to provide training that is focused on specific areas that will directly impact the hiring, development, and

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retention of scientists and engineers in the targeted groups, such as interviewing skills, performance management, a system of rewards and recognition, and conflict management. At the same time, making women and minorities more visible in the organization can be very beneficial. The "Environmental Consciousness" section of the diversity training plan suggests that departmental displays highlight principal investigators, their research, and pictures of diverse participants. This can be an excellent forum to demonstrate the contribution of scientists and engineers in the target groups. Presenting them along side their peers belonging to majority groups will avoid the impression of tokenism and will communicate the importance of scientists and engineers in the target groups. The usefulness of producing a separate diversity brochure based on the mission and vision of ONR is not clear. A more effective way to communicate the importance of diversity in ONR might be to integrate diversity into the appropriate issues and practices described in existing media (new employee handbook, public affairs displays, newsletters, advertising campaigns, etc.). Rotational Assignments Providing rotational assignments is an excellent way to provide career development opportunities while also increasing collaboration and understanding among different naval organizations. As representation of the target groups increases, these scientists and engineers should be encouraged to participate. Mentor Program The pilot Mentor Program, announced in a February 1996 memorandum from the Chief of Naval Research, is designed to provide developmental opportunities to all ONR employees in scientific and engineering positions and to offer them access to, and prepare them for, future leadership roles. The basic design of this program appears well-suited to meet this goal. The use of a "360 degree assessment tool," which provides feedback from an employee's managers, peers, and subordinates, is especially critical to the success of this program, and adequate attention needs to be paid to the administration of this process. Those providing feedback to the individual need to be encouraged to provide information that will help that individual succeed. The nature of this feedback is twofold: (1) to identify the person's existing behaviors and skills that are particularly important to succeeding in ONR and (2) to identify those behaviors and skills which may limit success. Although this may appear obvious, it is important to remind those who provide feedback of the importance of providing a balanced perspective. The employee and the mentor should also be encouraged to dedicate sufficient time to the assessment to ensure that this information is used to its fullest. This tool provides a great deal of information, but the developmental plan that is generated from it must be considered a "living document" to reap the full benefits. Providing mentoring to all employees is bound to improve both individual and organizational performance. To ensure success of this program, cultural differences need to be accounted for

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regarding such things as learning styles, conflict management, communication styles, and perceptions of authority. When members of the target group are paired with those in the majority group, there is an excellent opportunity for mutual cross-cultural learning. It is also important, however, to recognize the need for members of individual targeted groups to spend time with one another as well and to provide a venue for these gatherings. This can be done in partnership with the appropriate professional associations and other naval organizations. To avoid exclusionary behavior, these meetings should be open to all members of the community. The mentor program description includes among its objectives to "provide a tool to embrace diversity as a core value of ONR; to change the organizational culture to enhance the participation of minority, female, and disabled scientists and engineers; and to attract and retain qualified new people into ONR." This objective seems to exceed the scope of a mentor program, and the existing program description does not appear to include a tool or process that will meet this objective. If valuing diversity is to be one of the goals of the mentoring program, there should be greater clarity about how this is to be accomplished. Recruitment and Relocation Bonuses The ONR Diversity Committee has recommended the implementation of a recruitment and relocation bonus program to enhance recruitment of members of target groups in the S&E work force. The program would provide supplemental salary of up to 25 percent to new hires to ONR or to current federal employees in order to relocate. This committee questions the effectiveness of this approach to increasing diversity. The ONR Diversity Plan indicates that the dearth of members of the target groups in ONR is due to several factors, which include recruitment and hiring practices, low attrition, and the work environment. Providing recruitment and relocation bonuses are not likely to address these issues. At the same time, there is no evidence that the lack of hiring is due to an inability to meet the current market demands of female and minority candidates, which is the usual purpose of such bonus programs. Also, the experience of organizations in industry and academia that have tried recruitment bonuses for new hires indicates that this practice can be counterproductive. In the interests of acquiring such bonuses for new employees, the selecting official may place more emphasis on a candidate's membership in a target group than on qualifications. Even in the cases where this is not true, these special hires may be perceived and, consequently, often treated as token hires who have not met the qualifications of the job. In either case, a tremendous disservice will have been done to both the scientist or engineer and to the organization as a whole. There are, of course, exceptions, and managers should have the option of using recruitment or relocation bonuses where necessary to attract an outstanding candidate. However, bonuses to individual new hires should be rare.

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Role of the ONR Diversity Committee The ONR Diversity Committee is an important tool for ONR in its work to increase diversity, and the current committee is to be commended for its solid recommendations. This committee believes that the ONR Diversity Committee should be strengthened and given a position of greater prominence. Two ways to accomplish this are to add some senior executives to the committee and to have the Chief of Naval Research assume leadership in the position of Chair. This would send an unequivocal message to ONR scientists and engineers that the committee's functions are important to ONR's mission.