Written by Lt.j.g. Katie Braynard
Whether a deck watch officer on a national security cutter, a machinery technician responsible for repairing engines on a small boat, or a yeoman who handles administrative duties, the diverse backgrounds of each and every Coast Guard member are crucial for mission success.
The diversity offered by each and every service member, and how that diversity contributes to mission success was the topic of discussion at this week’s annual National Naval Officers Association, or NNOA, conference in Point Loma, California. The conference brought together members of the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Merchant Marines and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support the NNOA’s mission of providing professional development for the diverse officer corps within these sea-going services.
The conference builds upon a 43-year partnership between the Coast Guard and NNOA, helping to recruit, retain and develop a diverse officer corps. Originally began to achieve more diversity for the U.S. Naval Academy, over the past four decades, the association has grown to promote diversity among all sea services. The conference is designed to train and develop junior officers on various issues related to leadership and career management. The conference also allows for the recognition of those chapters of the association througout the country that have best supported the sea services in recruiting and professional development.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft joined U.S. Navy Adm. Michelle Howard and Lt. Gen. David Berger at the conference, and provided a keynote speech on the importance of recognizing the diverse backgrounds of servicemembers in order to achieve operational success.
In his speech, Zukunft stressed the need for diversity and inclusion initiatives to begin with leaders, noting that effective leaders are able to incorporate and balance difference to form teams in order to accomplish the mission at hand.
Zukunft also spoke on the Coast Guard’s efforts to remain focused on diversity and inclusion initiatives as he announced the recent signing of the Coast Guard’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan.
The plan communicates the Coast Guard’s vision of being the “‘Service of Choice’ within the federal government for recruiting, retaining and sustaining a ready, diverse and highly skilled workforce.”
Zukunft also spoke on the need for the Coast Guard to attract people from diverse backgrounds in order to achieve organizational success.
“It is an absolute imperative today that we build a team that incorporates diversity of thought, experiences and ideas,” said Zukunft. “In a global environment where tactical decisions often have strategic consequences, having a like-minded team simply doesn’t get the job done.”
For the past 43 years, NNOA has been an important partner, helping the sea services meet their goals of minority officer representation. As the Coast Guard looks to the future of diversity and inclusion efforts, NNOA will remain by their side. Zukunft supported the work of NNOA with the signing of a memorandum of understanding, which will extend the partnership between the Coast Guard and NNOA in the years to come. The MOU allows for Coast Guard members to be active participants in NNOA, and also allows for the use of non-monetary Coast Guard resources to accomplish NNOA goals.
“I’m proud to sign an MOU today with your national president that will further solidify the Coast Guard’s partnership with NNOA,” said Zukunft. “I’m committed to the talent that affinity groups can bring to the table, and you are vital to our mentoring and retention efforts.”
The continuing partnership between the Coast Guard and NNOA helps to support the Zukunft’s initiatives to recruit and maintain a highly skilled workforce with a singular goal of coming together to achieve operational success.