By Marisa Alia-Novobilski, Air Force Materiel Command
/ Published September 14, 2021
The Air Force Materiel Command continues to make progress on a number of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across the command as it leads the Air Force in efforts to ensure all Airmen, uniform and non-uniform, have the right environment, resources and support they need to thrive and succeed.
The Air Force Materiel Command continues to make progress on a number of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives across the command as it leads the Air Force in ensuring all Airmen, uniform and non-uniform, have the right environment, resources and support they need to thrive and succeed.
“We are committed to enabling all of our Airmen and civilians to thrive in a diverse and highly inclusive environment,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC Commander. “I want AFMC to lead the Air Force in this area. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical to the success of our command, and we are continuing our drive, ensuring all of our Airmen have the opportunity to perform to their full potential.”
Following the nationwide response to the death of George Floyd in May 2020, the entire Department of Defense took a comprehensive look at existing policies and procedures to identify and take steps to address institutional barriers related to gender, race, ethnicity, and more. AFMC also took immediate action and began examining its own policies and practices, hosting a number of sensing sessions with Airmen across the command and conducting a command-wide survey to help identify problematic areas across the centers and installations.
“To create an environment where every Airman feels accepted, valued and has the opportunity to achieve their full potential, we needed to understand our shortcomings and areas of need so that we could take the right steps to address them,” said Keith Tickle, AFMC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program lead. “We continue to work towards our initial goals and re-vector as needed as we carry on with our efforts to address all aspects of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility across the command.”
Bunch identified 12 primary focus areas in late October 2020, setting a baseline for a number of initiatives underway across the command. These enduring initiatives include a focus on training, civilian hiring, talent management, mentorship, civilian disciplinary procedures, communication and more.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion continues to be a focus area in both the public and private sectors; however, successful initiatives must be sustainable, seen as valued added by the workforce, measurable over time and embedded into existing platforms, such as our civilian personnel processes,” said Bill Snodgrass, AFMC’s Director of Manpower, Personnel and Services.
Among the initial first steps was the establishment of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Councils across the command, which include center and installation leadership representatives. These councils work with commanders to implement AFMC policies at the local level and provide a mechanism for feedback regarding trends and needs to headquarters’ teams.
“The councils work with commanders to help facilitate cultures of inclusion at the local level so we can continue to develop and retain a high-quality, diverse workforce, while addressing the strategic impact of diversity, inclusion, and equity for civilians and military members of our team,” said Tickle.
AFMC standardized command-wide diversity, equity and inclusion training and established a mandatory “Unconscious Bias” training curriculum, with course delivery led by e-Cornell University certified staff. Diversity, equity and inclusion training is also now incorporated into all command leadership education courses, ensuring leaders have the knowledge and education to lead inclusive AFMC organizational teams.
The command also reexamined hiring and selection processes to ensure demographic, cognitive and organizational diversity is captured in human resource actions. The command’s centralized selection and hiring processes were refined, moving responsibility for filling critical, entry-level developmental positions to centralized selection cells. Human resource advisors are also monitoring selections for supervisor and higher grade positions, ensuring diverse hiring panels are present for all actions.
“We continue to strive to remove bias from recruitment, promotion and hiring to ensure that the best, most qualified individuals are hired for our missions,” said Tammy Lyons, chief, AFMC Personnel Support Division.
Though a large number of initiatives are driven by headquarters’ activity, a number of center and installation-driven changes are also helping the command to move the diversity needle.
At the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, a new Supervisor Rotation Program will enable supervisors to rotate among different teams to build and expand competencies in leaders as they work in diverse mission areas. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center launched a “Celebration of the Workforce” development series focused on mentorship and training, featuring representatives from diverse groups working across the mission. Center and installation working groups, and dedicated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Offices, are also working to create more inclusive work environments by identifying and working to overcome barriers to success at the local level.
“Initiatives will continue to evolve and expand as we implement lessons learned and make course corrections as they mature,” said Tickle. “To truly be successful in this area we need to continually learn and implement new knowledge in our activities.”
The command is also working on policy related to award and recognition, civilian discipline, talent management and succession, and affirmative employment programs, among others. Sensing sessions continue across the mission to ensure the command maintains the right focus for the diversity and inclusion efforts as well as to uncover any additional areas that need to be addressed.
“Building a more diverse and inclusive workforce is critical to our success as a command and a service. We continue to work diligently to address these issues and remain focused on improvement. By working together, we will become the AFMC we need for the future,” said Bunch.