The role of mentoring in the career development of racial minority commissioned officers of the sea services
McAdams, Mary Ellen
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The U.S. military has sought ways to increase the number of racial minorities in its ranks. Currently, there is a lack of racial minority commissioned officers in the senior ranks of the sea services (i.e., Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps). Increasing the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of senior leaders requires the elimination of factors that disproportionately affect their promotion. This action research case study focused on a professional association that supports racial minority sea service commissioned officers. The purpose of the action research case study was to explore how a professional association, whose membership functions in predominately White institutions, can privilege its members, who are primarily racial minorities, in their career development. Three research questions guided the study: (1) What are the factors that marginalize the career development of racial minority sea service commissioned officers? (2) How can a professional association privilege its members in career development using mentoring interventions? (3) How can association members, participating in a collaborative action inquiry process, create interventions to help privilege racial minority sea service commissioned officers? The action research team employed qualitative research methods, including critical incident interviews, with 13 senior racial minority sea service commissioned officers to determine factors affecting their career development and advancement. Three conclusions were drawn from the research. First, marginalization was evidence in sea service practices and procedures affecting racial minority sea service commissioned officers. Second, there was evidence of privileging occurring for the racial minority commissioned officer in their career development by a professional association whose mission is to support the sea services. Lastly, the findings support the need for the association to develop a strategy that creates opportunities for career development and advocates for the understanding of service culture for racial minority junior commissioned officers. This research contributes to the understanding of organizational processes in management that affect racial minorities. It helps to fill the research gap regarding the effects of mentoring on racial minority commissioned officers. Finally, it demonstrates that using critical race theory themes to analyze military practices and policies can reveal areas of inequality.