Air Force Establishes Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The Department of the Air Force on Jan. 11 officially stood up its Office of Diversity and Inclusion, according to a Feb. 2 release.

The office’s job is to cultivate an “equitable environment for all Department of the Air Force personnel” by finding and fixing “policies and procedures” that might have adverse impacts on underrepresented troops, and eliminating “barriers and other practices” that might impede their careers in the Air and Space Forces, according to the release.

The release also credited “the task force and Office of Diversity and Inclusion” for playing a role in the department’s crackdown on potentially offensive heraldry and honors and new disciplinary data tracking requirements.

Acting Senior Advisor on Diversity and Inclusion Tawanda R. Rooney—who formerly served as deputy director of the Secretary of the Air Force’s Concepts Development and Management Office—is leading the office, which is being staffed by a diverse “cross-functional team” of Air Force and Space Force personnel and civilians, according to the release.

“The Department of the Air Force is committed to enabling all Airmen and Guardians to thrive in a diverse and highly inclusive environment,” Rooney said in the release. “Our office will lead this charge and continue all the good work the Task Force initiated. Diversity and inclusion are warfighting imperatives and we need to capitalize on all available talent by enabling a culture of inclusion where every member is respected and valued for his or her identity, culture, and background.”

Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, first announced a plan to transition the Air Force’s Diversity & Inclusion Task Force—which was formed in June 2020—into a permanent “Office of Inclusion, Diversity, and Belonging” at the Air Force Association’s 2020 virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference last September. 

Video: AFA on YouTube

However, the release noted, the new office was formally created in response to recommendations from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and from the Air Force Inspector General’s 150-page deep-dive into racial disparities within the department that was published in December.