by Capt. Carolyn Glover
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
10/30/2015 - 10/30/2015 - Orlando Florida -- Mobility
experts attending the 2015 Air Mobility Command and Airlift/Tanker
Association Symposium had the opportunity to develop their perspective
on the relevance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Howard Ross, a nationally-recognized expert on diversity, leadership,
and organizational change, opened the seminar with a thought-provoking
statement, "We don't actually think the way we think we think."
And, through a series of short social experiments, scientific
explanations, and study summaries, he illustrated the impact of
individual bias and how personal experiences impact perspective and
Ross defined bias as a function of the mind and "a tendency or inclination that results in judgment without question."
Human beings are biased by nature, impacted by a lifetime of experiences, emotions, and interactions.
"(Bias has) nothing to do with quality of character... It has to do with
the lens your life experience gives you for seeing the world," he
Bias, in fact, develops from the same part of our mind that enables the
quick and decisive decision making military members are trained and
encouraged to execute. Despite the influence of bias on perspective and
decisions, Ross highlighted the human ability to slow down the thought
process to prevent automatic reaction and encourage thoughtful, better
He provided a series of recommendations that may impact one's ability to
effectively encourage thoughtfulness, and thus limit the implications
of personal bias.
Ross concluded his presentation by urging the audience to accept the
existence of biases, evaluate personal biases, practice 'constructive
uncertainty', engage more often with those considered 'others', and give
and provide feedback.
"It is possible to change the human system," he stated.
Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, 18th Air Force commander, closed the seminar by
emphasizing diversity as an important mission area. "We have to have an
environment that is inclusive of all the ideas and all the talent that
we have," he said. Only in a diverse environment, will Airmen come
forward with the diverse ideas that our Air Force needs to grow and
One commander in attendance decided to take on this call to action.
Brig. Gen. Trent H. Edwards, 37th Training Wing commander, Joint Base
San Antonio-Lackland, intends to bring lessons learned at the seminar to
the junior leaders at his wing, whom he says are integral to the
success of any organization.
"As leaders, we owe this professional development opportunity we just
experienced to our front line supervisors and those at the middle level
of the organization. He believes the junior force must develop an
understanding of bias, and how to effectively overcome it, so by the
time they are in senior leadership positions the principles will become
"If we develop our future leaders now ... they will become comfortable
and familiar with the concepts. It will become second nature," said
Eventually, bias awareness will become part of their culture.
Capt. K. Strub, a communications officer attending the symposium, found
the lessons learned eye opening. She plans to return to her squadron
with open eyes, and an increased willingness to put herself in other
"(Bias) is not something you would naturally recognize. Be aware you
have biases, even if you think you don't. You do. It's a natural part of
The AMC and Airlift/Tanker Association Symposium is the premier Mobility
Air Forces professional development forum, offering education on
matters with a global impact. The symposium serves as a key professional
development forum for MAF Airmen by enable direct access to senior
mobility leaders, and fostering an environment encouraging open dialogue
and honest discussion