Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Harnessing diversity to strengthen our sea services

Friday, July 30, 2010
by: CDR Glynn Smith

It was a privilege and honor to participate in the first joint National Naval Officers Association and Association of Naval Service Officers Professional Development and Training Conference held in Portsmouth, VA. I was thrilled to see the strong Coast Guard contingent, roughly 250 members, who attended the conference. I fully support and take great pride in the relationships I have with these two organizations.

The challenge from this conference is for us to harness diversity to strengthen our sea services – how can we recruit and retain a workforce that allows us to bring within our ranks and benefit from the diversity of people that are today’s America? The good news is that we have a comprehensive diversity plan that I am committed to implementing. I realize that having a plan is just the first step; we must now stand a taut watch to see our plan to execution.

The comprehensive diversity plan has five basic goals:

1) Assure a diverse workforce through all-hands commitment with leadership accountability;

2) Fully utilize communication and focus groups to improve workforce cultural climate;

3) Expand outreach to underrepresented populations;

4) Equitable hiring and career opportunities for all employees, and;

5) Optimize training and education to emphasize the value of a diverse workforce.

I am similarly committed to working to ensure that the Coast Guard is the service of choice for all Americans – that there is unfettered access for all who wish to join our ranks. Unfettered access allows for two things to happen. First, by reaching out into communities that may have not historically sought out careers in the sea services, we make these communities aware of the opportunity to serve. Second, our sea services get the benefit of an expanded group of potential members, with their unique individual competencies, capacities and experiences from which to select for service. Unfettered access results in more opportunity and more choice. The Coast Guard can draw strength and spirit from new prospective – informed by different heritages we can take new approaches, broaden our view of the possible, and by doing so we enrich our Service and one another.

One of the great contributions that affinity organizations like the National Naval Officers Association and Association of Naval Service Officers provide is assistance with enhancing diversity. During my tenure as Commandant, I will look to them for support and assistance in recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce.

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