The Coast Guard was cited by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as a government-wide leader in diversity and inclusion best practices during 2011. That designation was earned through the hard work of the men and women in the Coast Guard's Office of Diversity.
"I'm very proud of the work we've done," said diversity outreach manager Donna Walker-Ross, a Coast Guard civilian employee. "One of our best practices is the Diversity Outreach Board. We used the board as a team to evaluate programs and events and to align initiatives while promoting the commandant's diversity strategy. Then, we developed and carried out a national strategy that has increased the Coast Guard's presence in communities and organizations."
The Office of Diversity developed the Coast Guard's Diversity Strategic Plan with five goals: To assure a diverse workforce through all-hands commitment with leadership accountability; fully utilize communication and focus groups to improve the workforce cultural climate; expand outreach to achieve access opportunity for underrepresented populations; ensure equitable hiring and career opportunity for all employees; and optimize training and education to enhance diversity management and leadership skill sets. Achievement of these goals is what has led to the success of the program.
The commitment with leadership accountability resulted in 42 flag officers and senior executive service members participating in national outreach events as attendees or speakers. That effort is in line with Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp's guiding principle of "Respect our shipmates," which holds leaders at all levels accountable to keeping a workplace climate of equity. That principle also fosters an environment where every individual has the opportunity to prosper and advance their careers.
The Office of Diversity staff also took an active role to improve the workforce cultural climate. Among their efforts was participation in 165 national outreach events in 2011 to communicate the commandant's diversity message to all levels in the Coast Guard; establishment of a Coast Guard-wide Asian-American mentoring network; and expansion of the use of audience response technology throughout the Coast Guard to enhance the effectiveness of its diversity training.
Expanding outreach to underrepresented populations increased significantly in 2011. For example, the Coast Guard had worked for several years building relationships with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and the Society of American Indian Government Employees to reach out to tribal colleges and universities. This year, those efforts culminated with the Coast Guard being listed as one of the top achievers among the Department of Homeland Security component agencies in support of Native American initiatives in the Annual Performance Report on Executive Agency Actions to Assist Tribal Colleges and Universities.
An effective management tool for the Coast Guard's Office of Diversity is the Executive Outreach Management System, a database that collects and organizes information about outreach efforts. This database allows easy access to information on what outreach has been conducted, what is scheduled and what comments were received at events. Review of the data prevents duplicative efforts and provides background information for new board members to study. It can produce several different reports on events, outreach personnel and results of event participation, allowing the Diversity Office personnel to more efficiently manage the time and effort put into their programs. It also helps compile the best practices inclusion reports, which describe what a federal agency did each year for diversity improvement.
The Coast Guard worked to provide professional development tools and mentoring as a means to retain a highly-skilled and diverse workforce and to ensure equitable hiring and career opportunities for all employees. Adapting to the digital information environment and the technology used by "digital natives," the Coast Guard Academy established an online mentoring forum for cadets where they interact with senior, active-duty members. Initiatives for civilian employees include a modular, Web-based mentoring program in the Learning Management System. An afloat working group was established for sea-going service members to identify and address diversity issues specific to the afloat community.
Every new Coast Guard employee received the Coast Guard's updated diversity and inclusion briefing at the new employee and leadership development program orientations to underscore the value of workforce diversity and the benefits of inclusion, equity and respect for all personnel, their talents, experiences and abilities. The Coast Guard also successfully conducted diversity and inclusion training at six major leadership forums. This training, which underscores the value of workforce diversity, provided senior leadership with the tools necessary to carry out the Commandant's Diversity Strategic Plan.
The Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Defense and other service branches partner with affinity groups and organizations annually to host national civil rights award ceremonies recognizing active-duty and civilian personnel for their accomplishments in civil/human rights, race relations, equal opportunity and affirmative action.
This year's Coast Guard award recipients were nominated for their work in assisting the Coast Guard workforce, community involvement, contributions to public service, overcoming discrimination, supporting civil rights for all Americans and promoting a positive understanding of the armed forces among all members of the U.S. military and civilian population.
The awards are listed in the order of their presentation throughout 2011:
- National Image, Inc., Meritorious Service Award: Lt. Yamaris Barril, 9th Coast Guard District, Cleveland, Ohio, and Jose Velazques of the Coast Guard Personnel Service Command, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
- Federal Asian Pacific American Council Meritorious Service Award: Lt. Charlene Forgue, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn., and Lt. Andrew Taylor, 17th Coast Guard District, Juneau, Alaska.
- Society of American Indian Government Employees Meritorious Service Award: Petty Officer 2nd Class Franklin Pine, Marine Safety Laboratory, New London, Conn.
- Civil Rights Service Provider of the Year Award: Lt. Gregory Spruill of Pacific Area Command, Alameda, Calif.
- Federally Employed Women Military Meritorious Award: Chief Warrant Officer Eneida Bull, Sector Miami, Fla.
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award:
Lt. Deon Scott of Sector San Francisco, Calif.
- Blacks In Government Meritorious Service Award: Curtis Odom, Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., and Lt. j.g. Michael Johnson of Air Station Savannah, Ga.
- National Organization for Mexican American Rights Meritorious Service Award: Gloria Potocek, Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C., and Chief Petty Officer Carlos Gonzalez of Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif.
- Latina Symposium Distinguished Service Award: Lt. Cmdr. Angelina Hidalgo of Sector Los Angeles/Long Beach, Calif., and Nadine Santiago of Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, D.C.