A Top Pentagon Official Used Racist Language at Work and Made Sexual Comments to Women

Doug Glenn, a former top Pentagon official
Doug Glenn, a former top Pentagon official, used the N-word at work, made sexually suggestive comments to staff and drank on the job, according to a Defense Department inspector general report released Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (Via OPM.gov)

A former top Pentagon official used the N-word at work, made sexually suggestive comments to staff and drank on the job, according to a Defense Department inspector general report released Thursday.

Doug Glenn joined the office of the department's deputy chief financial officer in 2018 and performed the duties of the comptroller for a few months in 2021. He used the N-word while preparing for an all-hands call on diversity in the workplace -- following an earlier all-hands meeting described by witnesses as racially insensitive, according to the inspector general.

The watchdog report says Glenn's racial insensitivity left his subordinates feeling "appalled, surprised, betrayed, stunned, and very confused." Glenn, who is now chief financial officer at the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM, confirmed to investigators that he used the word but denied being insensitive and making sexual comments.

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"Mr. Glenn admitted that he used the N-word twice during one conversation but indicated that he did not intend to offend anyone, and it saddened him that he did not notice any discomfort in his employees resulting from his conduct," the report says.

Glenn left the Pentagon in November 2021 and became the OPM CFO, a position in a powerful agency that oversees all federal workers, where he's responsible for the budget, financial management, risk management and audits. Military.com reached out to his office and also attempted to reach the agency but got no immediate response.

The DoD inspector general said the report on Glenn's conduct would be sent to the OPM director "to take appropriate action regarding Mr. Glenn."

Staff had attempted to nip Glenn's racial comments in the bud, according to the inspector general report, but were apparently unsuccessful.

While performing the duties of comptroller in February 2021, Glenn decided he wanted to have an all-hands town hall with staff to discuss diversity and inclusion. He began discussing with subordinates while planning for the meeting his intent to recount former President Barack Obama's public recollection of experiencing racism while walking past cars and hearing passengers lock their doors.

But Glenn had a new twist on the president's story that he wanted to tell the gathering of 200 staff members -- that maybe Obama really hadn't experienced racism and that perhaps there were different perspectives to consider, witnesses said.

He posited that people may have been locking their car doors for reasons other than the president's race.

"Both subordinates told us that they advised Mr. Glenn not to share the story because it might not be received well by the staff," the inspector general reported.

Glenn went ahead with the story anyway. He also called on an Asian staffer during the all-hands and asked about her feelings on the Defense Department naming China as its top national security challenge. Most witnesses said they felt he called on her because of her ethnicity, and it made them feel incredulous and uncomfortable.

Still, Glenn told investigators he felt like that first all-hands meeting went "well enough" and that his job performance rating for that time was high.

Later that same month, Glenn decided he wanted to have another all-hands meeting to discuss inclusion and diversity. His staff tried to dissuade him from it because of how poorly the earlier meeting was handled, according to the inspector general.

The report says Glenn had a new story to share with his staff. This time, he wanted to recount a personal story from his past when he asked a colleague why she wore a particular sweater. According to his telling, the woman told Glenn she wore it to stop the "negative comments," but Glenn misheard her as saying "[N-word] comments."

While telling the story to staff, he used the N-word twice, witnesses said.

They told the inspector general "that Mr. Glenn said he thought the misunderstanding was funny because 'when he relayed that story to a black person, the black person looks at him horrified. But when he relays that story to white friends, the white friends laugh and think it's hilarious.'"

The inspector general investigators interviewed Glenn in January 2022, and he read a prepared statement on the incident. He explained that he asked the coworker what she meant by "N-word attitude" and was "completely mortified" and apologized after she corrected him.

"One of my biggest points in reciting this experience was to demonstrate how differently my friends of different races reacted when I discussed this experience with them," Glenn said at the time.

The inspector general found that use of the word offended staff and violated DoD ethical conduct, even if Glenn meant to use it for illustrative purposes.

Subordinates also told investigators that Glenn had made sexually suggestive comments in the workplace, including commenting on female staff members' looks, that made them feel uncomfortable.

A female worker said he would regularly comment on how young she looked and said he could "line up the women in the office" but none would look as good as her. Glenn would also tell her, "it's not all about looking pretty," the witness told the inspector general's office, prompting her to recount the conduct to her husband.

Glenn allegedly called another subordinate a "hot blonde" during an office happy hour event. In another incident, a witness told investigators they overheard Glenn having a conversation with a subordinate on speaker phone and saying that he "hoped some studly guy would be rubbing oil on her back at the beach."

The inspector general said he denied the conduct during its investigation and interview, "saying that he did not recall making the comments, and telling us that the comments did not sound like anything he would say."

Subordinates also said Glenn kept alcohol in his office and drank with them on various occasions. Investigators were told he drank with staff, offered them wine in the office in the afternoons, and kept alcohol in his office refrigerator.

One staff member said he kept a bottle of pink wine behind his desk and offered her some following a conference call that ended around 2 p.m.

Glenn admitted he drank alcohol in the Pentagon, saying he thought it was a common practice to have a drink in your office after hours, but that he stopped the practice during his time performing the duties of comptroller when he found out permission is required.

"Someone saw them [alcoholic drinks] on my desk and asked if I was going to drink them and I said 'yeah,'" he told investigators. "They were welcome to join me. So, if I need to call that serving, okay, I guess I did, but that's how that transpired. It wasn't me approaching them, 'Hey, do you want a drink?'"

The inspector general said it found no evidence that Glenn ever had authorization to drink or store alcohol in his office.

-- Travis Tritten can be reached at travis.tritten@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Tritten.

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