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Officials Discuss Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Benefits to DOD

Feb. 2, 2022 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

Defense Department personnel discussed the benefits of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Don Means Jr, the director of Operations and Infrastructure Center, Defense Information Systems Agency and Serena Chan, the senior technical advisor of OIC, DISA, spoke today at an AFCEA NOVA virtual panel.

A man in military uniform pins an award on a woman in military uniform.
Achievement Medal
Army Col. Raymond Jablonka, director of the U.S. Army North surgeon staff and Joint Force Land Component Command surgeon for COVID-19, presents Navy Lt. Cmdr. Veronica White the Joint Service Achievement Medal for her deployment in support of U.S. North Command COVID-19 vaccination efforts at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 28, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Kolmel
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Equity is about promoting justice, fairness and impartiality when devising or implementing procedures, processes and programs so every person can have the opportunity to get equal possible outcomes, Chan said.

For inclusion, it's about the practice of ensuring that people actually feel and are welcomed into the group, she said. "Inclusion outcomes are met when your organization or your program is truly inviting to all participants."

Teamwork is making sure that all voices are heard. Having diverse groups means we're less entrenched in a groupthink, she said.

Women interact.
Network Administrator
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mylanna Jeffery a network administrator with the Headquarters and Services Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, says goodbye to an Afghan evacuee at Fort Pickett, Va., Jan. 29, 2022.
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A woman hits a volleyball.
Volleyball Tournament
Army Spc. Isabell Sheets, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, plays in a volleyball tournament championship game at the base gym at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, Jan. 28, 2022.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Larry Nalley
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"I think homogeneity can lull people into thinking that they are making better decisions because everyone's agreeing with each other. But when you have differing viewpoints, it can sharpen the performance of the team," Chan said.

Diversity can really improve the quality of decision making, she said.

Different perspectives can also spur innovation, she added.

It's been shown through studies, that everyone has what's called an unconscious bias, said Means. "That's just the way we categorize things as humans, and it can impact decision making quality depending on how you deal with it."

Soldiers converse.
Northern Strike
Army Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, assistant adjutant general for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and Army Senior Enlisted Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Patrouille, conduct a battlefield circulation visit with the 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery Regiment, Wisconsin Army National Guard during Northern Strike 22-1 at the National All-Domain Warfighting Center, Grayling, Mich., Jan. 27, 2022.
Photo By: Master Sgt. David Eichaker, Air National Guard
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The operation center at DISA initiated a pilot project related to hiring practices. Names were removed from resumes to help ensure there was less unconscious bias and ensure that the best qualified candidates were selected, he said. "That worked phenomenally well and we're going to expand that to the entire center."

Means says he spends time mentoring students from underrepresented groups to get a more diverse workforce.

"It's really about getting the best talent," he added.