Cultivating a workforce where everyone is seen and heard is a top priority for DEVCOM’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director, Amanda Lavis. Lavis, who recently began her tenure at DEVCOM, has 12 years of experience building and developing DE&I programs for organizations around the country.
“One of the great things that I see in the DEVCOM workforce is an openness and willingness to learn and grow, which is rare in an organization. I think it is due to DEVCOM’s mission, and the team of teams approach that the command has adopted,” Lavis said.
DEVCOM’s team of teams includes eight technology centers and labs, three forward elements that coordinate the command’s global mission and a headquarters team that supports and provides strategic guidance to the centers and labs. The command works alongside hundreds of academic and industry partners, as well as numerous government organizations to meet its mission. The DEVCOM DE&I office is part of the headquarters team, and it will share information, tools and resources with the centers and labs to create an inclusive culture at every level of the command.
“DE&I can’t operate in a silo, so we need collaboration at all levels. We all play a role in creating the workplace that we want,” Lavis said.
Prior to joining DEVCOM, Lavis was the Equal Employment Officer for the state of Hawaii. In this role, Lavis re-built the EEO program and served as the statewide subject matter expert for diversity, equity and inclusion.
While EEO and protected groups of employees are part of DE&I, DE&I also includes diversity in thought, diversity in background and diversity in abilities, as well as diversity in how we look, sound and our educational background, Lavis explained.
“DE&I is not solely focused on compliance and checking a box. It is about changing behaviors and creating a space where people feel they belong and where they can come to work and bring their full selves,” Lavis said.
Lavis’ DEVCOM team comprises a program manager in each area – EEO; Disability; and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention. She and her team will incorporate results from surveys that the DEVCOM workforce participated in last year to develop developing strategic action plans and training that will focus on collaboration to achieve an inclusive workplace.
“DE&I touches all aspects of the organization because it is about people, which is our number one priority. If we don’t value our people, then they can’t bring their full selves to work. DE&I is about creating a space where people feel they belong and where they can come to work and bring their full selves, full backgrounds, full perspective, and diversity of thought and experience,” Lavis said.
Lavis’ passion for DE&I began during her tenure as an attorney for a mid-size law firm. She established Women Empowered, a group comprised of more than 200 businesswomen that connects women business owners with partners in the law firm, as well as men and women in the community. The group empowers women to ‘get a seat at the table’ with key decision makers.
“My background as an employment attorney enabled me to gain a broad knowledge in human relations functions, including safety, wages, reasonable accommodations, EEO, labor and union negotiations, which really helps me to see the broader picture. I also see how areas relate to each other and the importance of working together as a team,” Lavis said.
Lavis plans to parlay her skills as a mediator to help teams find a common ground to resolve conflict. Her team will support other HR areas including talent management and the future of work. She notes that workplace flexibility is a ‘fantastic tool’ because it attracts a talent pool of people who may not be in DEVCOM’s local geographic area.
“Being intentional about how we do things, the way we do them and why we do them will enable the command to take a small step forward to change the culture. It’s the willingness to adapt and change and make mistakes, then move forward that will really bring value into the workplace,” Lavis said.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command — DEVCOM — is home to the Army’s largest pool of civilian scientists, engineers, analysts and technicians who are the bedrock for discovering and developing the capabilities Soldiers need to deter, and when necessary, defeat current and future adversaries.
DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of Army Futures Command, and together the Team of Teams provides the scientific and engineering expertise necessary to better integrate modernization priorities and give the Army, as part of the Joint Force, the ability to act faster and more effectively than the adversary.