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We Are a Diverse Unit – Yeah so What?

Chief Master Sgt. Charles Fernandez, New York Air National Guard Human Resource Advisor fields questions during a diversity presentation at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY.

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FRESNO, Calif. -- Here's a little intel for all you Tech's and Master's that are getting ready to board: You will probably be asked what diversity means to you and why it is important. (hint: We Are Better Together) This is a fair enough question but one that I think is outdated. We no longer should be focused on why it is important to have a diverse unit. America is much more diverse than it was in the 50's when this conversation regarding diversity began. As long as we recruit in America, we will, by default, have diverse units. What we need to ask our Tech's and Master's when they board is: How would you best utilize the strengths that diversity brings to your unit?
At the 144th we have Racial Diversity, Religious Diversity, Economic Diversity, Generational Diversity, Educational Diversity, Sexual Diversity, not to mention, diversity with respect to how each of us serve; traditional versus technician versus AGR. Of course we can always become more diverse. We could add a few more females, actively seek out people on the lower income scale or recruit more members with Masters degrees; but to what end? We don't want to become more diverse for the sake of becoming more diverse. That does nothing to develop the unit as a whole or to develop the people within the unit. What we need to do is ensure that we are embracing the strength of our diversity.
With this in mind, we need to continually ask ourselves the following types of questions:
· Do I, as a unit commander, appoint council members, Airman/NCO and Senior NCO, to ensure that our councils not only represent the diverse groups within our units but that the council can benefit from various life experiences?
· Do I, as a council president, work with unit commanders to ensure my council is a strong team?
· Do I, as a 40 something supervisor, communicate with my 20 something airman in a manner that they can relate to?
· Do I, as a 20 something airman, communicate with my 40 something supervisor in a manner that he can relate to?
· Do I, as a technician, spend the time necessary to ensure that the traditional that works with me gets the most from drills?
· Do I, as traditional, do everything in my power over drill, to learn from the technician that was working with me?
· Do I, as a member of the promotion board, put aside my personal biases while evaluating individuals for their next stripe?
These are just a few of the types of questions we need to ask ourselves to ensure that we are gaining the most strength from our diversity. Even more importantly, we need to challenge others to ask these questions of themselves.
We are a diverse unit. We should take pride in that fact. Now we need to realize the strength that can come from that diversity.

SMSGT. Cameron G. Williams
Human Resource Advisor, 144th Fighter Wing