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U.S. Marine Corps officer candidates with Lima Company participate in a close order drill competition at Officer Candidates School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Aug. 9, 2021. Close order drill instills discipline by increasing precision, response to orders and confidence within the candidates.

Photo by Tia Dufour

Marine Recruiting achieves historic success in diversity representation

21 Dec 2021 | Courtesy Story The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

“To remain our nation’s modern force in readiness, we require the most capable Marines who offer diverse perspectives and experiences to better innovate and grow our capabilities to conquer adversaries and defend the United States of America.” – Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, May 2021

The Marine Corps’ most lethal weapon is – and will always remain – the individual Marine. Marine Corps Recruiting Command continues to meet the accession needs of the Marine Corps while consistently recruiting a diversified force, creating equity in recruiting processes, and cultivating a culture of inclusion.

The Fiscal Year 2021 was another successful year for the command as MCRC achieved all accession missions for the year and reached historic successes in diversity representation. Greater than 35 percent of all officer candidates were diverse including 15.4 percent of female officer accessions, the highest number of female officer accessions for the Marine Corps in any given fiscal year.

“Improving diversity representation within our ranks remains a top priority to build cohesive units able to solve complex problems in war and peace. During FY21 we had historic success with diversity representation,” said Maj. Gen. Jason Q. Bohm, MCRC Commanding General. “Our successes are an indication of the positive steps we have taken over the past five years as one-third of officer accessions have come from historically underrepresented ethnicities.”

Officer recruitment spans multiple years, as the pipeline to becoming a Marine officer is much longer than that of an enlisted Marine. Officers are assessed through a variety of programs like the US Naval Academy, Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, and Platoon Leaders Class.

Every program requires an applicant to remain committed for many years, including their entire time in college or while attending a service academy. In addition to the Frederick C. Branch and Pedro De Valle scholarships, in FY21, the Corps added three new NROTC Scholarships to strengthen diversity representation in the program: the Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen, Margaret Brewer, and the Vicente Thomas Garrido Blaz leadership scholarships. These scholarships highlight the accomplishments and contributions of influential Marines and allow those with a similar fighting spirit an opportunity to earn a commission in the United States Marine Corps as they complete their studies at a participating college or university.

"Improving diversity representation within our ranks remains a top priority to build cohesive units able to solve complex problems in war and peace." Maj. Gen. Jason Q. Bohm, MCRC Commanding General

"Aiming to bring in the perspectives of Americans from all walks of life is key to acquiring talented men and women of every race, color, and creed,” said Col. Warren C. Cook, the Assistant Chief of Staff of Operations, MCRC. “This will remain a priority and we will continue this effort in the upcoming fiscal year."

Marine recruiters achieved great success with diverse representation in the enlisted ranks during FY21, with 48 percent of all enlisted accessions being from diverse groups. This accomplishment resulted in a five percent increase from 2020.

The command’s successes are a result of many years of work ensuring every community is represented to give every qualified individual an opportunity to serve. This also ensures MCRC is reaching every corner of the country, covering every state, county, and zip code. This reach allows any qualified person the opportunity to serve their country as a Marine.

“Marine Corps Recruiting Command achieved and went beyond our projected goals in diversity, both for enlisted and officer components, and this can be attributable to our deliberate assignment of Marines to recruit in all corners of the Nation,” Cook said. “It’s how we attain a reflection and representation of the rich fabric of the American people and culture.”

Over the past decade, MCRC has made positive strides in recruiting diverse and talented individuals into our Corps and remains committed to assigning our best Marines to recruit duty. The Marine recruiting force closely reflects the face of the Nation, which is a testament to the command’s efforts to recruit a more diverse force. Approximately 47 percent of Marine recruiters come from diverse backgrounds, which is well above the Nation’s demographics as a whole. These Marines strive to reach every qualified man and woman while establishing relationships with teachers, coaches, and influencers from the most rural of small towns to the largest cities in the Nation.

Recruiters and Officer Selection Officers have a powerful marketing program that assists them in creating awareness and attracting talent. Wunderman Thompson, MCRC’s contracted advertising agency of record for nearly 75 years, understands the dynamics recruiters face and works in coordination with the MCRC’s Marketing and Communication section to ensure every tool is made available in order to create awareness and attract diverse talent.

Marching On Photo by Tia Dufour
U.S. Marine Corps officer candidates with India Company participate in a close order drill competition at Officer Candidates School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Aug. 9, 2021. Close order drill instills discipline by increasing precision, response to orders and confidence within the candidates.

“One of the challenges all recruiters and OSOs face is a lack of awareness around opportunities in the Marine Corps,” said Master Sgt. Jeremiah Bentz, MCRC Marketing Chief. “We understand the challenges that exist daily for the individual Marines that are out there speaking with individuals from all walks of life.”

“This program aids recruiters and OSOs by creating awareness through a variety of methods, whether those be local outreach or national-level efforts. The goal is to ensure that we put the message out to every qualified individual, from every walk of life, about those opportunities that are available to them,” added Bentz.

Recently, challenges such as COVID and natural disasters contributed to one of the most challenging recruiting environments the Marine Corps has experienced in decades. Closed schools, delayed or canceled shipping activities, and canceled community events all hindered recruiter activity. Marine recruiters greatly depend on these access points to make contact with select audiences and to establish influencer relationships. With the new challenges, the command explored and adapted to new methods to accomplish their mission, such as digital prospecting and the use of online communication tools. As part of the changes, business practices quickly changed without losing ground. This meant Marine recruiters adapted to new ways of systematically recruiting without sacrificing representation.

“We overcame wildfires, blizzards, floods, a flattened shipping model, the highest reserve mission since 2010, the loss of Boot Leavers [new Marines coming home from recruit training to assist Marine recruiters], experienced closed schools, low propensity, and a hyper-competitive market, all in the midst of the global pandemic and the arrival of the more deadly Delta variant,” Bohm said to the command in a message at the close of FY 2021. “You cannot keep Marines down. We are winners. We adapt, we overcome, and we accomplish our mission together because we know our Corps is relying on us.”

Building on Fiscal Year 2021’s successes, MCRC has taken several steps to reinforce the institution’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. MCRC established a Diversity Officer billet in the command's headquarters to ensure DE&I remains an institutional priority and to perform research and analysis efforts that ensure recruitment practices are effective in reaching all segments of society.

Through the command’s extensive diversity outreach and awareness efforts, MCRC is making great progress toward the Commandant’s goal of accessing a mature, talented, and diverse force capable of being the Naval Expeditionary Force-In-Readiness necessary to respond globally to a crisis at a moment’s notice.