The FBI is known for solving complex cases and keeping society safe from criminals. But what the public may not be aware of is the ongoing emphasis placed on equality and diversity inside the FBI. To help raise employees’ awareness of cultural, ethnic and gender diversity, the FBI Salt Lake City Office holds lunchtime meetings seven times a year. All employees are welcome to attend the hour-long sessions and listen to guest speakers address a wide variety of topics. Over the past two years, speakers have educated FBI employees in the Salt Lake City division about important issues related to people with disabilities, women’s history, Asian and Black history, and much more. In June, the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office welcomed Brandie Balken, the Executive Director of Equality Utah. Equality Utah is the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights group. Ms. Balken expressed her appreciation for the work that goes on at the FBI. “You have a huge responsibility on your shoulders. You are charged with upholding the constitution and one of the core tenants is that all people are created equal,” said Balken. She went on to discuss the importance of equal access for all, engaging in respectful conversations about issues, and creating positive solutions to problems.
Solving problems is exactly what Pamela Atkinson does best. Ms. Atkinson is an advocate for Utah’s homeless population. She provides free meals, free clothing, and makes sure the homeless have access to services they need. Ms. Atkinson recently spent time discussing her work with FBI employees. She paid a visit to the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office as part of Women’s History Month. Ms. Atkinson emphasized acceptance and understanding of others. She recalled the first time she volunteered at a local kitchen that served hot meals to the homeless. She greeted all who entered. When a homeless man named Phil came through the door he thanked her for shaking his hand. Phil told her she was the first person who had touched him in more than a year.
To celebrate Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Salt Lake City Field Office welcomed the Bobby Lawrence Karate School in May. Students spent almost an hour demonstrating karate. By discussing the Asian culture, the performers did more than put on an excellent show, they also helped raise awareness about Asian traditions.
In their ongoing commitment to workplace diversity, FBI employees are arranging future visits by members of Special Olympics, a local judge who will address issues important to Utah’s Hispanic community, and a member of the Native American community.