Military Diversity Expert: Diversity Wins Elections

Jan 28, 2013

Col. Ron Joe talks to the Democratic Club of North Florida at the Amtrak station in Tallahassee.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU-FM

On Monday, a national expert on diversity in the U.S. armed forces told a local club in Tallahassee that diversity is critical to accomplishing missions, whether they’re military operations or winning elections. Presidential appointee, Col. Ron Joe spoke to the Democratic Club of North Florida.

Retired Army Col. and longtime Tallahassee resident Ron Joe directs the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense. He said, as a black serviceman, he experienced racism throughout his 30-year Army career. Today, he said, discrimination is less frequently directed toward individuals, but rather shows up in the overall trend of who gets promoted. But, he said, the military is taking steps to fight its lack of diversity among high-ranking officers.

“For women, for lesbians, gays, bi-, transsexuals, for people of color, [they're] not given the best opportunity to advance," he said.

Joe said, just like in the military, ignoring the benefits of diversity only hurts the overall mission in elections. He said, Republicans learned that the hard way during the 2012 election, by underestimating the effect of the Hispanic vote. And he encouraged Democrats to make every effort to include all potential voters as they look toward the 2014 gubernatorial election.