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(Tribune News Service) — One of the Air Force’s most important commands says it is centralizing the way it hires thousands of new people in a bid to reduce bias and favoritism.

The Air Force Materiel Command has modified an existing centralized selection and hiring process to ensure it “hires the right people to fill critical, entry-level developmental positions across the enterprise, faster and more efficiently,” the command said Thursday.

“We should always seek the most qualified person when hiring,” said Bill Snodgrass, AFMC director of manpower, personnel and services. “However, unconscious biases may exclude highly qualified people from competing. Centralized hiring for entry-level positions is one way AFMC plans to reduce unconscious bias and ensure our hiring process promotes diversity. It will also allow us to hire into critical positions faster.”

The “centralized selection and hiring process” will use “centralized selection cells” within each AFMC center to manage recruitment of new employees, the command said.

The cells will identify vacancies, post job openings, review resumes, interview candidates, make selections and more, AFMC said. The process will be used to fill about 2,000 developmental positions annually, the command said.

They will also track hiring metrics, turnover rates, and new hire demographics, which will be reported to the AFMC headquarters team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

In the command’s first diversity and inclusion survey: Of all responding civilian employees, 20% stated that they believed hiring is impacted by race and/or ethnicity, according to survey results released last spring.

While some respondents believed promotion and hiring actions are biased against Black people and women, others said opportunities are limited based on a perceived “reverse racism” that favors minorities.

“We want to reduce any chances of favoritism or bias in the hiring process by placing the responsibility for recruitment in the hands of trained human resources specialists and functional experts that understand the demands of the position,” said Tammy Lyons, AFMC Personnel Support Division chief.

AFMC began piloting the cells’ concept in August 2018 in the contracting and logistics career fields.

AFMC is an important Air Force command, responsible for the Air Force’s massive material, logistics and research needs and missions. The command, which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson, has about 40% of all Air Force civilian employees — nearly 71,000 civilian employees, with an additional 19,113 uniformed employees.

Air Force Materiel Command demographics, total command workforce, military and civilian:

70,902 civilians and 19,113 military

White male: 56.5%

White female: 18.09%

Black male: 7.78%

Black female: 4.66%

Asian male: 2.8%

Asian female: 1.2%

Hispanic (both sexes): 8.09%

Hawaiian native other Pacific islander male: 0.37%

Hawaiian native /other Pacific islander female: 0.16%

Multiracial male: 2.28%

Multiracial female: 1.03%

Not identified/declined to respond: Male: 2.7%; female: 1.02%

Source: AFMC

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(U.S. Air Force)

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