New diversity council...it's not what you think
By Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Daponde, Human Resource Advisor , 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published June 03, 2012
Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- By the end of the September drill the 104th Fighter Wing will have hosted its first Diversity Council meeting. Currently, we do not have a Diversity Council but this UTA I will begin assembling a team of talented individuals who will help mold this program into a working group, with a mission to help highlight the diverse workforce here at Barnes and also strengthen the base's relationships with the community.
Late last month, there was a Diversity Conference in Reno, Nevada in which one of the focuses was how to establish a diversity council. Since the conference, I have spoken to a few folks around base about being part of this group, but I am going to need a few more volunteers in order to ensure this team reflects not only the cultural differences at Barnes, but also the different military specialties, genders and civilian work experiences that paint a clearer portrait of our bases family.
Before I ask people to step forward as volunteers, let me explain how I envision this diversity council functioning as well as define what diversity really is.
Diversity is not about quotas, nor is it all about gender, race, and ethnicity...it is actually about all our differences, to include our jobs, life experiences, and even our hobbies and interests. Differences are what give a unit its character...and our unit has a lot of character.
First, one of our teams main focuses is going to be strengthening relationships with the surrounding community. I have had a few meetings with Major Mutti, our Wing Executive Officer, and he is going to be a liaison between the council and the community. We have a great relationship with the surrounding cities, and this council will help strengthen those connections. Let me be clear, this group in not going to be a community service team, rather, it will serve as the team that represents the larger interests of the base and our members.
Secondly, we will focus on creative ways to expose the base to diversity issues. The council will consist of at least one member from each unit on base. These representatives will act as a conduit between their unit and the council. The Diversity Council will take an active role in addressing diversity issues as well as educating commanders on how their unit can better emphasize the importance of diversification.
Finally, the council will assist in promoting the different months throughout the year that have diversity themes, enriching our understanding of different cultures.
How often we will meet and what is the best time to meet will be determined at the first meeting. Please contact me at 698-2476 or stop me on the street if you have any further questions or would be interested in being part of this council.