A new regulatory division committee is looking to address the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. Maria DeLaundreau, a regulatory project manager and the founder of the committee, said, “The committee is open to everyone in regulatory. We have about 15 standing members right now and we meet once a month.” Within that committee are five sub-groups including a team for observances and holidays such as Women’s History Month. Other sub-groups include a group that hosts current events discussions, a group to create tips for hosting inclusive meetings, a group to create a baseline survey for regulatory to help evaluate DEI needs and interests, and a group that is working on an office map that includes existing accessible and inclusive infrastructure.
DeLaundreau said she had been involved with similar teams at other places she worked which were meaningful to her and she wanted to create something similar at the Corps. “There’s room for improvement anywhere,” she said. “Having support from your peers makes it easier to have a neutral ground, gives communication tools, let’s you practice being an ally and creates a safe environment for people to grow.”
Some people are new to DEI work, some people have been involved in DEI for an extended period of time and some got a wake-up call last year, DeLaundreau said. “I’m excited about empowering people on the team to bring more to the Regulatory Division. Our current events subteam hosted a discussion with about 30 people on current events, tying in the Emmys, government and the Olympics. We talked about why representation matters and how it ties back to what we’re doing in our work.”
Marie Kopka, regulatory lead project manager and committee co-leader, said they are building the curriculum as they go, based on what team members are interested in learning about. “We started with having a shared vocabulary and basic DEI terms and we’re building off of that,” she said. “One of the first, visible efforts, is that some of us are including our pronouns (for example, she/her/hers) on our email signature block. This is something that is shown externally, so it radiates out to the public.” Kopka said they are also working on using more inclusive language in correspondence.
“We are passing along resources to be an ally, amplifying voices, being inclusive and providing tools that anyone can use,” Kopka said.
Kopka said there’s been leadership support for the committee on multiple levels, from regulatory division leadership to the commander, to the equal employment opportunity office, to other divisions hearing about it and sparking interest to create their own groups.