Pentagon discussion groups inspired by a best-selling book by Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg are in the works to promote women and minorities in military leadership.
Reuters is reporting that US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has endorsed the so-called “Lean In” forum which takes its name from the book.
Carter and Sandberg will meet at the Pentagon with 15 women from all ranks and military services who already lead Lean In groups.
“If you look at the numbers, it’s clear that we are not where we should be in terms of the leadership reflecting the overall force,” an official said.
“It’s important that our force reflect the nation that it protects.”
Lean In circles initially focused on helping empower women to tackle ongoing challenges in the workplace but the organization this year encouraged men to get engaged as well.
In recent years, the Pentagon has stepped up its recruitment of women and minorities and is moving to open more — if not all — combat jobs to women.
Women make up about 15 percent of the US military.
Thousands of women have served alongside men in Iraq and Afghanistan but women also leave military service during the mid-career phase at twice the rate of men, and top military officials are seeking ways to retain them.
Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, wrote Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead which has become essentially reading on women empowerment issues.
The Lean In foundation, which counts 24,000 circles in 120 countries, provides free material on its website for topics ranging from practical ways to counteract gender bias to principles of leadership.
Carter’s public support of Lean In is part of his larger initiative aimed at bringing military workplace practices more in synch with changes in the civilian world.
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