REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- In recent months, the words “diversity” and “inclusion” have become the focus for improving the workplace and ensuring equitable treatment of employees.But those words – when put into practice – also translate into developing a highly productive workforce, said the director of Army Materiel Command’s Office of Diversity and Leadership.Speaking to AMC’s Equal Employment directors and managers, Paula Taylor encouraged creating a government work environment where employees feel comfortable to suggest innovative ideas, show initiative and develop themselves as leaders.“Employees need to feel free and comfortable to be the best they can be at their jobs,” Taylor said. “When they are comfortable, they are more productive, and they are able to do their best job to enable Soldiers with the best innovative ideas, products and warfighting weapons. Employees who are healthy mentally and physically, and who are enabled to do their jobs can truly make a difference for our Soldiers.”Taylor’s comments came during a virtual AMC Enterprise Equal Employment Opportunity Director’s and Military Equal Opportunity Advisor’s Forum Oct. 14-15, which involved Equal Employment Opportunity professionals, and Human Resources leaders from AMC’s 10 major subordinate commands. The theme was “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – The Army’s Way of Life.”Taylor, like many Army Civilians, is retired from the military. She served 22 years in an Army uniform.“The Army is an inclusive organization. We are integrated and we have a strong focus on understanding what’s going on in our communities,” she said. “The Army can lead the way for the country. We can show people how to live with inclusivity, diversity and equity.”The Army’s Project Inclusion further solidifies its commitment to diversity and inclusion, first among its Soldiers and then among its civilian workforce, Taylor said. The Army’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Annex – better known as the DEI Annex -- provides a five-year strategic plan for organizational, climate, structural and procedural changes that enable the Army to further build cohesive teams that increase Soldier readiness and lethality. It includes a Defense DEI Advisory Committee to implement diversity, equity and inclusion measures.At AMC, senior leaders are committed to the Army’s People Strategy by focusing on ensuring civilian readiness and the implementation of Project Inclusion, Taylor said. Through leader awareness and commitment, education and training, and communication, the AMC workforce will be defined by a culture of diversity awareness and inclusion that eliminates racism and extremism, and provides transparent feedback between supervisors and employees, she said.“We must continue our focus on Project Inclusion and use it to provide a structure that continues to enable us to build inclusive teams,” Taylor said.Operationalizing Project Inclusion not only makes for a better work environment, but also builds AMC’s and the Army’s ability to acquire, develop and deploy the best civilian talent available. “We must spread the net wide to ensure we get a diverse group of highly skilled people to join this team,” Taylor said.Transparency in the hiring and promotion process, providing employee opportunities for education and development, and resolving employee conflicts in the initial stages are all essential to furthering the ideas of Project Inclusion.“We are looking for an equitable and inclusive environment for all our employees,” Taylor said. “We will teach leaders how to communicate effectively and be inclusive, and treat all employees fairly. We must maintain and sustain diversity and inclusion throughout our ranks. All employees must know they are valued and needed to accomplish the mission.”To expand diversity, equity and inclusion within the Army Civilian workforce, the DEI Advisory Committee will:·        Develop and implement a diverse talent management framework that recommends methods for support of DEI principles, equitable treatment and inclusive leadership practices·        Use the Army Civilian performance management systems to integrate employee and leader engagement opportunities;·        Ensure the use of career development, coaching and retention;·        Integrate DEI practices into Army Civilian talent management policies, practices and operations;·        Enhance career management and progression for high performing civilian talent based on knowledge, skills, behaviors, preferences and mission requirements; and·        Develop DEI strategies to address hiring, development, employment and retention.“Diversity and inclusion in the workplace enhance performance and productivity. They are business, economic and social imperatives,” Taylor said. “Diversity and inclusion strategies must be strategically aligned with business goals. Diversity management strategies must be complemented with inclusion strategies and effective conflict management.”