Pentagon Official Notes Navy Center’s Diversity
By Troy Clarke
Special to American Forces Press Service
NORCO, Calif., March 1, 2010 As part of his initiative to “take the Pentagon to the people,” the Defense Department's top diversity management and equal opportunity official visited the Navy's command responsible for independent assessment Feb. 25.
Navy Capt. Jay Kadowaki, left, commanding officer of the Corona Division of Naval Surface Warfare Center, and William Luebke, right, the center’s technical director, welcome Clarence A. Johnson, the Defense Department’s principal director for diversity management and equal opportunity, before a working lunch in Norco, Calif. U.S. Navy photo by Greg Vojtko
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Clarence A. Johnson, principal director of the Pentagon's diversity management and equal opportunity office, met with Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona's senior leadership, diversity council, African-American special emphasis program group, and addressed an overflow audience of employees.
"Diversity means collecting all the strengths, all the attributes to help execute our mission," said Johnson, a retired Air Force colonel and head of the Pentagon's diversity and equal opportunity office for the last seven years. "Diversity is a key component to mission readiness, because it gives each individual an opportunity to put his or her strengths forward to support the mission."
Johnson said the Navy is leading the armed services in diversity, and its top leaders are making a considerable effort to ensure the maritime service reflects the diversity of America.
"Right now, the Navy has the best overall diversity programs of all the services," Johnson said, giving Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead and his predecessor, Adm. Mike Mullen -- now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – much of the credit.
"What Admiral Roughead is doing, and what Admiral Mullen did before him, is a huge commitment to diversity,” Johnson said. “The other services are trying to emulate what the Navy's doing."
Corona is one of Naval Sea Systems Command's most diverse warfare centers, and its sustained outreach strategy to attract diverse talent to the Navy has paved the way for the naval command to build connections with educators, business leaders, government officials and affinity groups geared toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
Johnson said he is highly impressed with the warfare center's work force and diversity outreach programs and thinks other services can learn from its example.
"From what I've seen here, Corona is a model for everyone to follow,” he said. “I see a program where senior leadership is engaged in personnel management from cradle to grave. He noted connections to the National Society of Black Engineers, the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference, the League of United Latin American Citizens and other organizations that focus on advocating for women and minorities.
Corona commanding officer Navy Capt. Jay Kadowaki said that outreach to under-represented minorities is vital for the Navy's future, especially as the Navy adapts to demographic shifts of tomorrow's talent.
"Without question, diversity makes our Navy stronger," he said. "And the different experiences, backgrounds and talents of our sailors and civilians helps us be an unbeatable team. It allows the development and execution of new ideas to ensure the Navy advances with the nation's demographic changes and technological challenges."
Each year, the Navy's outreach efforts reach a variety of diverse populations, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their 235,000 annual graduates; the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, with a base of 20,000 members; the National Association of Asian American Professionals, which reaches 2,500 technical professionals and the Society of Women Engineers, which reaches about 40,000 female engineers.
Johnson said diversity is critical to get the best talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields – and that's not just an employee recruitment issue. For the Pentagon, he said, it's a matter of national security.
As part of its human capital strategy, Corona has had a long-term commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education outreach, and in October received the first STEP Award for Government Leadership in Science and Technology Education from the Science and Technology Education Partnership, a Southern California nonprofit organization. Through its outreach efforts in the last decade alone, Corona has reached some 40,000 students from kindergarten through high school in the culturally and ethnically diverse states of California and Hawaii.
And for the Pentagon's top diversity management official, outreach with a diversity approach is a winning combination.
"Our charge is to capture intellectual strength to get the best solution for our armed forces and for our nation," Johnson said. "You really need to be looking at the diverse attributes coming to the table to get the mission done."
Corona's technical director and senior executive Bill Luebke said his science and engineering command also is uniquely poised to help his command and Naval Sea Systems Command get the best and the brightest talent to execute the Navy's mission.
"Corona is located at the center of Southern California's dynamic and diverse talent pool,” Luebke said. "We are also at the epicenter of more than a dozen world-class colleges and universities that produce high-caliber science and engineering graduates."
Johnson said he got more here than what he came for.
"I'm going to use this visit as a benchmark to talk to other leaders about diversity," he said. "They need to call Corona to see what they're doing out there. This is, indeed a model installation."
Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona serves as the Navy's independent assessment agent and is responsible for gauging the warfighting capability of weapons and integrated combat systems through assessment of system performance, readiness, quality, supportability and the adequacy of training. The base is home to three national laboratories and assessment centers: the Joint Warfare Assessment Lab, the Measurement Science and Technology Lab, and the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center.
(Troy Clarke works in the Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona public affairs office.)