INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
There is no doubt that today's Air Force, and other armed forces, are built on their diverse and unique inclusion of individuals from all walks of life to include personal life experiences, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, age, race, ethnicity and gender.
Airmen at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, are coming together June 10-20, 2020, to participate in discussion groups with their leadership to help gain understanding and work towards building a more inclusive workspace.
“The voluntary discussions are open to anyone that would like to talk about their views, feelings and experiences,” said Lt. Col. Jason Coleman, 39th Comptroller Squadron commander. “These discussions will not solve the problem, but are the start of a dialogue towards a long-term awareness campaign where eventually all Airmen can feel they live with equality, liberty and justice for all.”
According to Gen. David L. Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, discussing inequality, different life experiences and viewpoints can be tough, uncomfortable, and often avoided. These conversations are encouraged, along with empathy, constructive dialogue and active listening.
“Being vulnerable is okay when talking about racism,” said Master Sgt. Dean Aguon, 39th Force Support Squadron first sergeant. “Understand this topic requires your attention and courage. It’s normal for you to feel the discomfort as you reflect on your own experiences and deepen your understanding of racial inequality.”
In a recent letter to commanders, Goldfein wrote that it’s time for every Airman to strive for understanding and a culture of inclusiveness and belonging across our Air Force.
“The more we utilize a safe space to engage in these difficult conversations, the more you will be able to manage the discomfort,” Aguon said. “The conversations may not become easier but your ability to press toward a more meaningful dialogue will expand.”
Leaders across the service agree that an inclusive workplace makes diversity work and is imperative for the healthy functioning of any organization.
“Having a diverse team and inclusive workplace has helped me as a squadron commander to solve problems with creativity and innovation by utilizing the different perspectives and experiences of each individual,” Coleman said. “These perspectives and experiences ultimately lead to sparking cognitive growth and result in more effective and efficient decisions and processes.”