ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. — Matt Sannito, deputy to the commanding general, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, hosted virtual town halls during the months of August and September via Microsoft Teams to discuss past, current and future initiatives.
Diversity and inclusion were on the top of the list of topics addressed.
On June 25, the assistant secretary of the Army and chief of staff of the Army announced Project Inclusion, the new Army initiative focused on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion across the force and building cohesive teams. This holistic effort will listen to Soldiers, civilians and family members, identify practices that inadvertently discriminate, and include the removal of photos from officer promotion boards.
Gen. Edward Daly, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, has been meeting with senior leaders to discuss ways to implement the Project Inclusion initiative.
Following the civil unrest in the U.S. this year, the Army is required to do a thorough self-assessment of policies and procedures to ensure a work environment free of discrimination and racism, Daly said.
He expects AMC commanders to do the same within their organizations, and added that this is an opportunity for AMC to demonstrate its leadership role across the Army.
“General Daly is really taking this inclusion and diversity topic head on,” Sannito said, recommending that all supervisors attend one of those sessions and voice their thoughts on how their organization can be improved.
Sannito believes that transparency is the key to having a positive outcome from Project Inclusion.
He added that Maj. Gen. Daniel Mitchell, ASC commanding general, has also been engaging with employees within the ASC enterprise.
Mitchell sent out a command-wide message on Project Inclusion and said that listening sessions were being held throughout ASC to give local leaders the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Sannito believes that a diverse workforce can help the Army improve overall.
“Look at any camo pattern,” he said, “to be effective it needs a variety of colors and a variety of shapes. The differences make it better and why inclusion and diversity in the Army is so important.”
Sannito talked about the government hiring process and how diversity and inclusion could help achieve improvements in the workforce. He said he also supports the hiring procedures for special categories and veterans’ preference; however, he’s interested in looking at ways to broaden the pool of candidates.
Presently, many announcements are restricted to only federal employees – an artificial limitation that does not benefit the Army, Sannito said, adding that anyone who is a U.S. citizen should have an opportunity to submit a resume.
Sannito also mentioned career fairs as an opportunity to target diverse groups for ASC’s workforce. Typically college career fairs are held in the fall and spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the schools have transitioned to virtual career fairs that G1 (Human Resources) division personnel are planning to attend.
After identifying the specific career fields that interns are needed for, the Equal Employment Opportunity Office gets contacted to provide reports and updates on minority status within the organization to give ASC an opportunity to hire the best candidates.
ASC is currently hosting virtual sessions of Journey to Leadership, a program designed to select and develop high-potential individuals to fill future leadership positions.
One of JTL’s current projects is about diversity and inclusion.
Considering the current reports and what the desired end state is, the team will have to come up with a problem statement from an ASC perspective integrating objectives, mission statement, lines of effort, and decision points.
Benefits to ASC include having the workforce's perspective in determining what the problem is, i.e., hiring practices, recruiting, and making sure that ASC is identifying the real issue and addressing it.
In a letter to ASC employees., Mitchell said that the Strategic Human Capital Plan 2020-2025 is integrated into the ASC campaign plan Human Capital Line of Effort to sustain a ready and resilient workforce through 2025.
The implementation strategies for SHCP 2020-2025 will amplify ASC’s strengths, address its weaknesses, and incorporate opportunities while promoting positive relationships and diversity within our workforce.
Sannito talked about the importance of climate surveys, including the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey which opened Sept. 14. He is hoping for maximum participation to get a true gauge of ASC’s workforce, regardless of what the outcome might be.
The feedback will help ASC outline the demographics of the workforce and provide a good baseline to understand the issues the command needs to address.
Sannito also encouraged participants to speak up during his town halls. He said he is committed to provide transparency about the health of the command, and that he is open to everyone’s viewpoint.
“It will help me understand where we stand and it will help the organization develop a more holistic approach as we move forward on the various investments that we make.”
Sannito said he is planning on having monthly virtual town halls for the next few months, alternating the ones for supervisors and non-supervisors.
He added that he’s open to set up office hours in the near future to have one-on-one meetings with any individuals who want to further their professional development, get dedicated mentorship, or get assistance in overcoming professional challenges.
The command is reviewing its workforce demographics to identify areas where diversity is lacking. A new Project Inclusion SharePoint site has recently been created and is intended as a forum to provide information and updates on ASC’s efforts on Project Inclusion. It can be found at https://asc.aep.army.mil/sites/pa/SitePages/Project%20Inclusion.aspx