Coast Guard men and women enter our service with diverse backgrounds, experiences and outlooks. All of these things combine to form unique views that each and every Coast Guard man or woman have towards particular issues or problems, or these things could affect how they perform their job each and every day.
As leaders in the Coast Guard, it is imperative to not only know your people, but to foster an inclusive environment in each and every workplace that respects these differences and encourages collaboration for mission success.
While the term ‘diversity’ has normally been synonymous with what boxes are checked on paper, the Office of Personnel Management is encouraging a new way to look at diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“We thought that was a little basic for the 21st century, that it was more about the diversity up here, cognitive diversity,” said Bruce Stewart, deputy director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the OPM. “Then when we got to talking about inclusion, we knew that was really important but there was no real set definition of inclusion.”
The goals of the new initiative include making the federal government a model place to work.
So, what do you need to know as a Coast Guard leader?
Change the way you look at diversity & inclusion.
“It shouldn’t be looked at like something that comes out of EEO that you have to deal with,” said Stewart. “Instead, it should be looked at as a way to improve the innovation of your team, to improve employee engagement.”
Stewart said it’s important for leaders at all levels to realize that when workers feel like their ideas and strengths are being used, they’ll be overall more efficient and happier workers.
Be mindful of creating an inclusive environment.
“Be mindful of being fair, open, cooperative, supportive and empowering,” said Stewart. “Based on our research, if you practice those habits, you’ll get more out of your troops.”
Stewart advises leaders to speak it, model it and account for it, in regard to diversity and inclusion. He says by doing this, leaders within the U.S. Coast Guard will be extremely successful in creating inclusive work environments at their commands.
To learn more about this initiative, known as “The New IQ”, watch the below video from Office of Personnel Management.