For more than half a century, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) has operated as a joint activity program, enabling military mission readiness through research, training, and consultation programs designed to foster behaviors and practices that promote equity, enhance leadership, and increase inclusive teamwork and unit cohesion across the Department of Defense (DoD).
DEOMI generates evidence-based and research-backed resources for commanders and personnel designed to optimize leadership and team performance throughout the DoD. DEOMI also trains and certifies specialized practitioners. DEOMI’s Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) and DoD Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs train military and DoD civilian personnel charged with preventing, intervening, and reporting instances of harassment and prohibited discrimination.
Through these programs and related initiatives, DEOMI has played a crucial role in DoD efforts to create a work and service environment in which all personnel can serve with dignity and respect within a total force whose demographic composition reflects the full diversity of the nation it defends.
Over the years, DEOMI has evolved to address the changing landscape of human relations. Established in 1971 as the Defense Race Relations Institute (DRRI), the institute’s initial mandate was to address racial tensions and promote equal opportunity within the U.S. military. The violent and nonviolent disorders of the late 1960s were the catalyst that convinced military leaders that race relations education must be provided to every member of the Armed Forces.
In 1979, DoD the reorganized and renamed the institute as DEOMI to reflect its expanded mission beyond race relations to include gender, religion, national origin, and other areas of American diversity.
Since the 1990s, DEOMI has used human relations science, methods, and theory, linking inclusive leadership and teamwork to enhanced operational performance.
In 2018, DEOMI embarked on a further mission expansion to become the DoD Center of Excellence (CoE) for human relations, encompassing MEO, EEO, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), and Harassment Prevention. In a 2018 memorandum realigning force resiliency efforts, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (USD(P&R) Robert L. Wilkie directed that DEOMI be reestablished as the DoD’s CoE for training, education, research, and consultation in the domains of MEO, EEO, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), and the prevention of harassment, hazing, and bullying across the total force. In 2020, Acting SecDef Christopher C. Miller codified DEOMI’s expanded mission in a memorandum directing immediate steps to establish a Diversity & Inclusion Center for Excellence at DEOMI to develop and train DoD-wide curriculum on diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness.
These directives guide the development of the DEOMI Human Relations CoE domains: MEO, EEO, D&I, and Harassment Prevention. They also acknowledge the interrelatedness discrimination and harassment and, thus, the interrelatedness of best practices to promote equity, inclusion, and command climate health. They also recognize DEOMI’s historical leadership in these domains.
Throughout its rich history, DEOMI has developed a wide range of educational materials, surveys, and assessment tools to aid military leaders in creating inclusive environments through various waves of integration. DEOMI's research and expertise have influenced policies and practices within the military, helping to increase fairness and equity for warfighters and civilian employees. DEOMI also collaborates with various governmental agencies, international organizations, and academic institutions to promote equal opportunity globally. Through its partnerships and outreach programs, DEOMI continues to help shape attitudes, behaviors, and policies that foster diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment in the military and beyond.