NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Achieving top performance is enhanced when leaders tap into the energy and capability of an actively inclusive team, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s document on Navy inclusion, One Navy Team Guidance.
“My experiences at NAVAIR over 30 years have informed me that if we can’t get the most out of every individual as a teammate, we will fail as a team,” Deputy Commander for Fleet Readiness Centers and Director of Industrial Operations for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0D) Martin Ahmad said to the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) workforce during a May 1 diversity event titled, “Come See What It’s All About.”
Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0) sponsored the event to promote and encourage employees to volunteer with the command’s seven Diversity Action Teams (DATs). DATs identify and eliminate barriers in support of NAVAIR’s diversity and inclusion goals.
Ahmad, who champions the American Indian Alaskan Native Team (AIAN), encouraged the audience to read the CNO’s One Navy Team Guidance and the Navy Civilian Workforce Framework to better understand why diversity is essential. He also asked them to become champions of diversity in the workplace. “Share why you came today with your co-workers and how the teams make for a stronger NAVAIR,” he said.
Diversity teams are invaluable resources when building relationships and expanding professional networks, according to Deputy Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR 6.0A) Tom Rudowsky. “Sharing ideas builds a repository of knowledge and an understanding of where it resides in the organization,” he said. “The friends you make while being a part of diversity teams are friends you make for life.”
DAT representatives explained each group’s unique approach to advancing diversity and outreach efforts during the event. For instance, the Women’s Advocacy Group (WAG) sponsored presentations on military etiquette and professional attire in the workplace; The African American Pipelines Advisory Team’s (APAT) is expanding its recruitment of summer interns from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and plans to survey African-American women GS-12 and below to identify their barriers to advancement; and the Asian American Pacific Islander Team is co-sponsoring a 5K run with the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265).
Engaging the community is a common theme across all DATs, explained the event’s emcee, Jacqueline Heiner, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Industrial and Logistics Maintenance Planning and Sustainment Department’s division head. She and other members of WAG visited a local elementary school where they played kickball and answered students’ questions about their experiences at NAVAIR. In November, the Hispanic Engagement Action Team (HEAT) plans to hold a Noche De Ciencia (A Science Night) to attract students to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“We are able to spread the passion we have for the organization through this type of outreach,” Heiner said.
Jessica Lynch, director of Human Capital Strategy and Management (AIR 6.0C), spoke on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning Plus Allies (LGBTQ+A) Team. “Most of the DATs are about background and heritages,” she said. “LGBTQ+A nurtures a culture of belonging, respect and inclusion. Feeling like a full NAVAIR team member empowers each of us and encourages innovation throughout the organization.”
AIAN is the newest group, established in the summer of 2017. Dr. James Nadeau, Identification Test and Evaluation Branch supervisory general engineer, represented AIAN at the event and invited the audience to learn about American Indian and Alaskan Natives influences on the U.S. “Our DAT represents less than two percent of the total population—one of the smallest segments in the country,” he said. “Our goal is to promote an appreciation for what American Indians and Alaskans have contributed to American culture.”
AIR 6.0 Warrior Integration and Support Program Manager Sonny Fann, representing the Individuals With Disabilities Action Team, encouraged the audience to find their niche and engage. “People are our greatest asset and diversity is our greatest strength,” he said. “The mission cannot be achieved without a diverse workforce that is motivated and productive.”
In addition to inclusion, support and cultural change, Fann said the DATs are about leadership at every level. “To be an effective leader takes passion, commitment, humility, and most importantly, genuine concern for the people you are leading. Your people will know if you truly have genuine concern. In the absence of it, they will not follow you.”
DATs are open to any NAVAIR employee who wishes to participate and who can commit to volunteering up to an hour a month. Roy Harris, Aviation Readiness and Resource Analysis (AIR 6.8) director who champions the AAPI DAT, encouraged the audience to join. “I ask you to get involved,” he said. “Some of my most satisfying times during the course of my 27-year career have been with the diversity teams.”
“Find a group to facilitate your passion and make a difference in the organization and in people’s lives,” Fann advised. “Encourage others. At the end of the day, it’s the only way to truly effect change.”