By Ms. Kari Hawkins (AMCOM)September 1, 2017
It's long been recognized that a high-performing workforce is defined as a group of employees who are working toward the same goals, who understand the tasks that need to be accomplished and who know how to work together.
But, among the buzzwords that define a high-performing workforce -- trust, accountability, motivated, driven, empowered, engaged -- there are two definitive concepts -- diversity and inclusion -- that lead to the most sustainable success.
They are so important to the federal government's success as an employer and a provider of services to the taxpayer that a 2011 executive order signed by then President Barack Obama established a coordinated government-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce. As a result, the Department of Defense outlined a Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan encouraging the military services and DoD agencies to incorporate diversity and inclusion initiatives in their organizations.
In response, the Army's Diversity Roadmap pledged a commitment to integrating diverse attributes, experiences and backgrounds in its mission in a way that enhances decision-making and inspires high performance.
And, the Aviation and Missile Command has stood up in support of that commitment.
AMCOM established the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which is comprised of representatives from each of the primary organizations, staff offices and stakeholders within the command. The committee follows the guidelines of the 2012-2017 Human Capital Strategic Plan and a 2015-2020 Diversity and Strategic Plan. The Diversity Committee serves as an internal forum to address diversity and inclusion issues impacting AMCOM's workforce.
AMCOM leaders are committed to employing a diverse workforce and ensuring inclusion of all employees. To that end, the AMCOM Diversity Committee represents every organization within the command in reviewing workforce data, and determining workplace policies, procedures or practices on diversity and inclusion.
"We are looking at barriers that could hinder us in developing a diverse and inclusive workforce," said Karen Bandera, director of AMCOM G-1 (Human Resources).
Potential barriers can not only exclude potential employees based on biological differences -- race and gender -- but also on sociological factors -- nationality, regional culture, ancestry and language.
The Diversity Working Group is an adhoc committee created to conduct barrier analysis and provide independent recommendations to AMCOM's leadership on policies, programs and initiatives relating to workforce diversity and organizational inclusion within AMCOM, Cruz said, and that data can help supervisors in the recruiting process.
"Diversifying our workforce is about more than race, gender and sexual orientation," said Demetria Cruz, AMCOM's Equal Employment Opportunity manager. "It's also about the culture, backgrounds and experiences that employees bring into our workforce."
Creating a diverse workforce, Bandera added, starts with a commitment to ensure that all qualified applicants and employees can fairly compete for opportunities within the government.
"Our strategic plan provides us with goals and strategies that we use to ensure AMCOM's ability to recruit, hire, promote, educate and retain a diverse workforce, and to create a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility and fairness so employees can participate to their full potential," Bandera said.
AMCOM's Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan have three goals linked to strategies and actions as established by the Office of Personnel Management: 1. Workforce diversity through recruiting from all segments of American society; 2. Workforce inclusion that encourages a collaborative, supportive, welcoming and fair work environment; and 3. Sustainability through developing structures and strategies to equip leaders with the ability to manage diversity, be accountable, measure results, refine approaches based on data and institutionalize a culture of inclusion.
There are several tools and training opportunities that are used in creating a diverse AMCOM workforce.
"USAJobs.com is a tool we can use because every applicant can self-identify in the application process," Bandera said. "Some employees take advantage of this and some don't. But, even if they do self-identify, we can't make our selection decision based on race, culture, sexual orientation or any of the other classifications. We still have to hire based on qualifying for the job.
"Instead of trying to recruit and hire employees based on certain diverse categories, we take a more broad standpoint in determining what would give us the best possibility of reaching a diverse applicant pool. That is why barrier analysis is important. We need to look at what we are doing to address the barriers to obtaining a diverse applicant pool."
Diversity, though, does start with recruiting. The AMCOM Diversity Working Group analyzes workforce data to determine the diversity groups that are under-represented, Cruz said, and that data can help supervisors in the recruiting process.
Tools like USAJobs.com and flexible workplace policies along with supervisor training are enhanced when current employees are encouraged to be responsible agents of diversity, mutual respect and inclusion by having them assist with recruiting programs, participate in diversity programs and to set an example of inclusion both in the workplace and in the outside community.
Having diversity in the workplace, however, is not enough, Bandera said. There also must be inclusion.
"We provide Supervisory Professional Development through the G-1's Training and Career Management division for our supervisors to support and encourage them to include all people in their office on working groups, on different teams, on a variety of projects. Everyone should have buy in and involvement," she said.
In one such move toward inclusion, the G-1 developed an awards handbook for supervisors to better improve the distribution of awards so that more employees know they are valued to their organization.
In yet another step toward inclusion, supervisor training often emphasizes cultural or generational differences.
"We want supervisors to be able to recognize the generational differences in their employees because if they can recognize those differences they can manage them and take advantage of them in a way that benefits the AMCOM mission and the employee," Bandera said.
Employees who "are being included in all parts of the organization and in the decision making process, and who are encouraged to collaborate feel they are allowed to make a contribution to their full potential," Cruz said.
"Everybody feels they are being heard, that their opinion, skills and talents are valued, and I think that's the primary concern behind diversity and inclusion, and, ultimately, retention," Bandera added.