FORT EUSTIS, Va. – The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s diversity office provided training necessary to effectively advise commanders in areas of diversity and inclusion, and to make a better, more inclusive workplace for everyone.
The training, called the “Game Changer” training, was hosted April 26-30 here at Jacobs Conference Center for Army equal opportunity advisors.
“We’re a force multiplier. We can come into an organization and help the commander build a stronger team and explain to them why it’s important to have diversity,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Hissim, TRADOC equal opportunity program manager. “We didn’t have much diversity and inclusion training before, but with this course, we are now better equipped to advise our commanders in this area.”
Hissim said that since diversity is a new requirement in the Army People Strategy, many EOAs did not have the skill set to meet the requirement. TRADOC’s solution was to host training sessions for equal opportunity professionals from TRADOC and any other commands that wanted to participate.
“We asked other organizations if they had EO professionals they would like to send to the course, and received an overwhelming response of people who wanted to come,” Hissim said.
The five-day train-the-trainer course was led by Dr. J. Bruce Stewart, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, who is the founder and chief executive officer of Small World Solutions, a company that specializes in facilitating inclusion and diversity training.
“This training provides participants with tools and ways of thinking that they can take back to their workplace and use to actually make a difference,” Stewart said. “All too often we have training that’s a one-time event and it’s never applied, especially in this area of diversity and inclusion, in a significant way that can really create measurable progress. That’s what we’re trying to do here.”
Stewart said he refers to the participants as ‘game changers’ because upon leaving the training they’ll work to change the game that’s been played to a new game, where everyone can participate regardless of their differences.
“It’s not about how smart you are as individuals, it’s how you play as a team,” Stewart said. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘how do we get our team to play better or best together?’”
Stewart’s approach to facilitating a training that sticks with his participants comes from the way he views the brain. He said he likes to look at the brain as being divided into three parts: a logical, reasoning part; an emotional part; and an action part.
“When I design a training, I try to make sure it hits all three parts of brain,” he said. “I want to give them the data or logic behind concepts, include exercises that promote emotional connection and finally find specific actions they can do.”
Stewart said he hopes participants will walk away from the training with the perspective needed to understand better how to put strategies in place that give people a chance to connect regardless of differences and to create policies and programs that promote inclusiveness.
“They’ll identify some organizational processes and personal habits that they can improve to be more inclusive and also put in place what we call a feedback system,” Stewart said. “They’ll be able to measure and compare the other ‘game changers’ and see what kind of impact they’re having on their social network.”
Measuring the impact of increased diversity and inclusion awareness is an important goal for the Army. Hissim said a second train-the-trainer session is scheduled May 10-14 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 80 participants from the sessions in Fort Eustis and Fort Benning will return to their duty stations as ‘master game changer coaches’ tasked with training a total of 100 EOAs each month for the next five months.
Hissim said surveys will be used to measure training effectiveness on individuals and organizations. If the training is successful, the goal is to incorporate it into Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute curriculum.
“Really, the end goal is to provide commanders a force multiplier that will improve readiness by creating more cohesive teams, inclusive organizations, and leaders who are socially aware, compassionate, and can identify and resolve discrimination or prejudice at the lowest level,” Hissim said.