Young’s bipartisan bill would help end gender, racial bias in military promotions

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) last week introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to reduce bias in the U.S. Armed Forces so that more women and other minorities stand a fairer chance at being promoted.

“As a Marine, I understand that removing bias and prejudice from the force is critical to help strengthen the cohesiveness of units and enable our military to accomplish complex missions around the globe,” Sen. Young said. “By removing information such as race and gender from promotion materials, we can ensure that promotion boards would assess and evaluate officers based purely on their merits and accomplishments.”

If enacted, the Combatting Bias in Military Promotions Act, unveiled by Sen. Young and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), would require that the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) eliminates certain identifying information from being presented to military officer promotion boards that could result in a biased promotion decision.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the inclusion of information in a promotion board packet that indicates the name, gender, age, race, or a photograph of the officer. Such information would be replaced by a unique identifier, such as a unique military service number or a Social Security Number, that DOD would use to identify the individual eligible for promotion, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Young’s office.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in July announced action would be taken against discrimination, prejudice, and bias across the DOD, including eliminating photographs from consideration by promotion selection boards and processes.

“While I am encouraged that some of these actions are being considered by the Department of Defense, protecting the integrity of our promotion process must be codified to ensure that all biases, whether conscious or unconscious, are not able to influence the military’s promotion decisions,” said Sen. Young.