SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- In support of the Army’s Project Inclusion initiative, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command implemented a Diversity and Inclusion Council with the mission of ensuring the command instills a culture of embracing diversity and building an inclusive environment.
Representatives from every SDDC brigade and headquarters directorate make up the council, as well as advisors from special staff offices like equal opportunity, legal and public affairs.
“Our goal is to develop a culture and a reputation of being a diverse, people-focused organization that provides a safe, inclusive environment for our workforce,” said SDDC Commanding General Maj. Gen. Heidi Hoyle. The inception of the council started last year after SDDC leadership gathered feedback from command climate surveys, listening sessions and discussions from the command’s own grassroots initiative, the Reconciliation and Respect, or R2, Group.
“There are things happening in the workforce that we need to hear,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Rocky Carr, SDDC’s Senior Enlisted Leader. “It’s incumbent upon us as leaders in the command to listen to our workforce because that helps us shape not only the work environment, but also policy going forward.”
To assist in shaping policy, the council is led by Chief of Staff Col. Stephen York and the council champion is Deputy to the Commander Michael Hutchison, who has already initiated actions towards improving the command’s civilian hiring process based on input from the council.
“During the listening sessions, the R2 sessions and town halls, as well as informal discussions that I've had with SDDC personnel since I arrived here, there was a perception that our hiring process was not fully transparent,” Hutchison said. “It had been my intent to re-work the hiring policy for some time. Project Inclusion just provided that impetus to get it done now.”
The hiring process is one of several programs being reviewed. The council is currently forming strategic goals and objectives to meet for the year while also researching methods and developing a communication plan to execute them.
SDDC’s Surface Warrior workforce can provide insight to the council either by contacting their voting council representative or by providing input to the D&I council’s internal webpage.
Project Inclusion, the Army’s initiative to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion across the force and build cohesive teams, started in June last year. As directed by the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army, this holistic effort will listen to Soldiers, Army civilians and family members to identify practices that inadvertently discriminate.
For Hoyle, SDDC’s Diversity and Inclusion Council is about more than just meeting an Army objective. It is a precedent she has set forth as a leader.
"It’s a priority because it's the right thing to do,” she said. “It's a priority because we may have pockets of wrong. It's a priority because we need to make our workplace right."
More information about the Army’s Project Inclusion initiative can be found at https://www.army.mil/standto/archive/2020/06/29/.