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The Inclusion At Work

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    What if each member of the Pease Air National Guard (ANG) felt supported, valued, welcomed, and respected? Multiple research shows this would lead to more engaged members and in turn will greatly benefit the organization. The Air Force already accomplishes a large key to the puzzle by having a diverse force in culture, demographics and unique range of various identities. But how can our organization achieve this sense of belonging and inclusion for all? The DEOMI, Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Equal Opportunity Climate Survey (DEOCS) always seems to point in the direction that the Air Force can do better in this field.

    One of our lowest scores at Pease ANG on this year’s DEOCS survey was in the area of inclusion at work. Pease ANG had a rating of 76% of members feeling included at work, in comparison the Air National Guard at large shows 77% of members reported feeling included at work. This leaves us with a score that is considered “adequate” according to the Air Force averages. This score is considered not to be an area of concern but possibly an area that could be improved. Reviewing further into the demographics of these results, there appears to be a drastic disconnect between how junior and senior leaders view this area. 97% of senior officers compared to only 64% of junior officers feel there is inclusion at work.

    The DEOCS breaks down the areas even further resulting in 15% of military members/employees in their workgroups not feeling empowered to make work related decisions on their own, 22% feel outcomes (e.g., training opportunities, awards, and recognition) are not fairly distributed among military members/employees in their workgroup, 14% feel the decision making process that impact their workgroup is not fair, and 10% feel excluded by their workgroup because they are different. Overall 76% agreed, 13% disagreed, and 11% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statements around inclusion at work. Analyzation of the results of the survey to include individual comments and prior observations made by the MEO team reflects a theme that needs further observation.

    Conduct Focus Groups

    One tool that is useful in clarifying the perceptions found in the DEOCS that the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) suggests is to conduct focus groups. Although focus groups can be conducted by anyone, I suggest the MEO team members will be the most effective to lead them. This will ensure a non-biased look into the unit resulting in an impartial view of the overall picture. These focus groups will occur over scheduled drill weekends to capture insight from the whole unit. Focus groups are important to further explore what is causing the perceptions found in the DEOCS survey.

    Create Multiculturalism Programs

    Currently there are no programs on Pease AFB that exclusively promote cultural awareness. The challenge to accomplish events will be both time as an ANG unit and leads on hosting as we do not currently have a team with this in their purview. Our Enlisted Club is active and has accomplished some great initiatives for the base and has recently asked for additional project ideas. MEO will attend an upcoming meeting to offer diversity event ideas to the Enlisted Club. Organizing and hosting cultural events associated with monthly observations could be a project of interest to them. Partners to work together with them will be MEO, HRO, Family Readiness and SARC. Representation by both senior and junior leadership will be vital to express commitment to diversity and inclusion. Offering this opportunity to embers to gather for cultural understanding promotes a sense of belonging within the Pease ANG. Bringing a focus to different cultures will help resolve some of the lack of familiarity within groups and create a further understanding of their customs.

    Selection: Combined

    Conducting focus groups and creating all-inclusive multiculturalism programs will work towards improving organizational culture and inclusion awareness together. Focus groups are on the reactive side of inclusion concerns based off of the DEOCS survey. Conducting focus groups will aid commanders in solving the root cause rather than just the symptoms of the concerns. Members of the unit will also trust that their command heard their perceptions and are further evaluating any concerns. Multiculuralism programs are on the proactive side of inclusion concerns. Events that are geared towards understanding different cultures will aid in building and strengthening cultural competence within unit members. Members will effectively collaborate with others on tasks when there is an appreciation of commonalities, values, and individual unique attributes of all human beings.

    Second Third Order Effect (STOE)

    Possible negative STOE’s could include a reaction to feeling excluded by majority members. Ensuring the programs being offered are all inclusive to both minority and majority would mitigate the risk for these feelings of exclusion (DEOMI). Inclusion initiatives should focus on differences beyond just demographics. Embracing the thoughts of different types of people who stand for different things and represent different cultures, generations, ideas, and thinking  gives the opportunity for more diverse outcomes. It is important that everyone as a diverse team feels as though they contribute and belong within their workplace.

    Cultural awareness events may need outside organization assistance for funds and support, such as food and supplies depending on the decided event/s. A good starting point would be to host an annual potluck of all ethnicities. Focus groups have all the resources needed within the units. Essential to a successful focus group is the support of Commanders and a genuine goal to create the change. Pending results of the focus groups, action plans will need to be created and leadership of all levels will need to be accountable. Inclusion is a shared responsibility every member on Pease has.

    The greater risk to Pease ANG is to not focus on inclusion in the units. Without the essential element of inclusion and the sense of belonging that it creates, we will never have full participation in workplace activities and what it takes to effectively collaborate with others in the unit. When members share their life experiences and feel less isolated, that’s when they will flourish and where their performance level will benefit the unit .

    Conclusion

    “Diversity is simply having representation. Inclusion is when people get invited to be at the table. And belonging is the emotional connection that people are feeling to each other and the organization”. All of these elements together is what will benefit Pease ANG; Allowing innovation by having new view points, retention of valuable members, and development of a diverse group of members into future leadership positions. It is vital to the Pease ANG’s future that all our members feel they have respect, a voice, equal contribution and acceptance within the organiz

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    The Inclusion At Work. (2022, May 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-inclusion-at-work/

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