DOD chief backs 'Lean In' circles to promote women in the military

DOD chief backs 'Lean In' circles to promote women in the military

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced on Monday that the Pentagon will allow troops and civilian workers time during the workday to gather in "Lean In" circles, informal discussion groups focused on advancing women in the workplace.  

The announcement came after Carter hosted Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who inspired the idea, at the Pentagon. The two sat in on a discussion group with 15 female troops from all ranks and services.  

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"These circles have a proven record of empowering women throughout our ranks, and giving men a way to lean in also and support their female colleagues and improve themselves," Carter said. 

"That’s why I’m pleased to announce DoD’s support — unconditional support — for Lean In Circles, through providing service members and civilian employees space and time to participate in their own circles," he said. 

"I highly encourage our people to take advantage of DOD spaces made available before, after, or during work hours to take place in these peer mentoring relationships," he added.  

The groups are called "Lean In" circles, after Sandberg's best-selling book "Lean In," aimed at helping professional women to achieve their career goals. 

Sandberg, who also gave remarks after the discussion, said she especially admired women in the military, "because you fight for equality with every step you take, everyday you come to work." 

"A more diverse force is a stronger force. We know that diverse organizations get better results, and that means using the full talents of our population," she said, adding that only 9 percent of generals are women. .

"The United States military has a huge role to play. The largest employer in our nation and also historically the leader in a lot of social change," she added. "If the United States military can get this right, other industries will follow." 

"This is mission critical if we are going to have the force that we need to defend the United States and our values around the world," she said. 

Carter argued that the Pentagon needed to keep up in workplace trends and talent management in order to retain the best force it can. The groups will also be a morale booster, he said. 

"It’s an investment in our people and our future — to boost morale, to make us more productive, and to hopefully build more diversity in our leadership," he said. "It's not just the right thing to do, it's the right thing for our military."