FORT KNOX, Ky. — The Senior Adviser to the Secretary of the Army for Diversity and Inclusion visited Human Resources Command at Fort Knox Dec. 9.
Anselm Beach led a luncheon roundtable discussion with HRC’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion team in Patriot Commons.
“ODI’s purpose is to foster creativity, solve complex problems and enhance innovation through employee engagement while promoting an environment free from discrimination, micro-aggressions, sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Carmen Lewis, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program manager for HRC.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are leading the Army’s conversations on readiness and the Army People Strategy.
“There is a lot of complexity in the world right now. There are no easy problems anymore,” Beach said. “Every problem that we have now is a very difficult and complex problem with a whole lot of intersecting pieces.”
According to Beach, there is much talk about diversity, equity and inclusion, but it’s important to remember that the Army is in the people business.
“We impact people in a way that is very different from everybody else, and people come to us because we’ve become the conscience of the Army,” Beach said. “When people come to us, they know that somebody is going to listen to them and something is going to happen, and sometimes, it is just that they need to be heard.”
Beach said diversity in the ranks makes America’s Army the premier fighting force it is today.
“If we use diversity, equity and inclusion as a framework, where we are building cohesive teams in an inclusive environment, we know that somewhere we are going to get more General Richardsons, more General Powells,” Beach said, “and ultimately our Army is going to be better because now we have different ways of seeing challenges and opportunities.”
During the luncheon, Master Sgt. Timothy Gutierrez, HRC Equal Opportunity adviser, took the opportunity to query Beach on why special emphasis observances are going away and shifting focus to Army Heritage.
“We want to make sure we allow autonomy to the commanders – to do observances without being overly prescriptive. There were some changes earlier, and we are working on a new regulation,” Beach said. “You will see a renewed focus – more on how we create employee resource groups – modernize some of the terms we have used.”
He posited to the team that he needed their help in letting people know that diversity is not a number; it is not just about representation.
“You can’t have diversity without equity; you can’t have equity without inclusion,” Beach said. “Diversity drives innovation.”
Equal Employment Opportunity is responsible for keeping the agency in compliance with the laws, regulations, policies and guidance that prohibit discrimination in the federal workplace. While, DEI focuses on education, training, communication and creating an environment that reflects the nation, according to Lewis.
“We know that we need to have policy as framework, but in the space that we are operating in there are foundational laws that require us to have compliance aspects,” Beach said. “Those things are not changing. Yes, things are changing and evolving, but it’s our competencies and approaches that are evolving.”
According to Lewis, the DEI team will assist and advise leadership in support of their efforts to ensure a fully transparent and fair system exists. This includes but is not limited to the recruitment efforts of marketing initiatives and position selection processes, hiring practices through reviewing interview questions, advancements in training and educational opportunities, and retention efforts through ongoing climate assessment initiatives to retain talent within the command.
“We must understand that the Army is ever-changing. We have to change in stride with what we are faced with – society. They lead some of these changes because we are recruiting from society,” Beach said. “If we don’t evolve, we become irrelevant.”