REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – From an Army commander’s point of view, the distrust, lack of dignity and respect, and the degrading of team unity caused by sexual harassment and sexual assault among Soldiers and Army civilians in the workplace take both offenses beyond the legal realm to touch the very core of military values.
Speaking to more than 100 Army Materiel Command SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention) professionals who attended the second annual AMC Enterprise SHARP Summit, AMC commander Gen. Ed Daly expressed his concern about the impact these offenses have on the victims and their families, and on Army organizations.
“I am very emotional and visceral about this,” Daly said. “Why? Because I’m a Soldier first. Because I’m a Department of Defense employee. And because of my roles and responsibilities as a husband and a father. It truly bothers me when I hear about situations that lack dignity and respect for those involved.”
Combatting sexual harassment and assault – as well as racism – at AMC and throughout all Army organizations, Daly said, is possible when commanders demand the implementation of prevention measures, personal accountability and program effectiveness. Daly said AMC’s SHARP program and its employees have the support of the organization’s senior commander in standing up against any action that is demeaning and humiliating to employees.
“You are the unsung heroes of this organization,” Daly told the AMC SHARP professionals. “Behind the scenes, you are working the whole aspect of dignity and respect. You are making a difference in people’s lives and you need to know how much this means to me both personally and professionally.”
While the SHARP Summit focused on the prevention of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, Daly said SHARP issues are closely linked to the problems of racism, suicide and extremism that also threaten Army core values. These social issues within the Army, he said, should be addressed through diversity, equity and inclusion programs.
For that reason, the roles and responsibilities of professionals managing AMC’s SHARP, Equal Employment Opportunity, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs “are inextricably linked to each other,” Daly said. “Your commitment to this effort is so valuable. I feel we are in a great place to make these programs exponentially better going forward.”
The Army’s values and standards define its overall culture, Daly said, adding his concern is with Army subcultures that are not easily viewed by leadership. SHARP, EEO and DEI programs within AMC, Daly said, must work to find vulnerabilities and subcultures that can undermine the values that all Soldiers and Army Civilians are required to exhibit in the workplace.
“We need to get to our remote sites where people may be vulnerable,” he said. “How do we check on them to ensure they have an avenue to report an incident, and to ensure their dignity and respect are not being undermined?”
The Army is committed to investigating any acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault at its installations, and implementing policies that will bring an end to this threat. The Army “owns the responsibility to fix this problem over time,” Daly said. “How do we move this forward to get the effect we want long term? We can’t execute roles and responsibilities behind a desk or in a cubicle. We have to get people out and talking and understanding. When things just don’t seem right, chances are they aren’t.”
Besides SHARP and DEI programs, Daly also looks to AMC supervisors to take actions needed to ensure the safety and care of employees.
“Everyone needs to see this as ‘This is my squad. This is my organization.’ Every leader at every echelon needs to be given a 360-degree survey so they can get an introspective view of their leadership,” Daly said. “If you are really taking care of people, how are you protecting people? We need to executive our programs, not monitor and react.”
The concerns expressed by Daly were also emphasized by other speakers during the SHARP summit, which focused on the theme “SHARP – Building Cohesive Teams Through Character, Trust and Resilience.” AMC speakers included Lisha Adams, the executive deputy to the commanding general; Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado; SHARP Program Manager Kimberly Green; Sexual Assault Coordinator Maureen Trainor, Diversity and Leadership program director Paula Taylor, and Command Counsel Ben Pickens. In addition, the FBI’s Helen Smith spoke about its special vicitim assistance program and Sgt. Maj. Aaron Stone, who was sexually assaulted as a teenager, shared his testimonial entitled “Shattering the Silence of Sexual Assault.”