Diversity concept important to Air Force culture
By Brian Rutledge, 808th Armament System Group
/ Published July 07, 2008
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Diversity. It means many things to many people and the exact definition depends on where you sit. The following is a definition of diversity which I believe is very relevant to the Air Force.
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
Diversity is what our country is based and thrives on. A synthesis of the world's plentiful and varied races, religions, and cultures, America is a home to all, such that no one group can call itself more "American" than another. The fusion of cultures in America is so unique and so exceptional that citizens can be just as proud of their original cultural heritage as they are to be an American.
Each culture provides its own special and irreplaceable contribution to what America is today. The struggles of nationalities to integrate into the "melting pot" society of America require the strength and integrity of leaders and the passion of all to be an American. Without its rich mixture of religions, races, and cultures, the United States of America would not be the nation that it is today. Founded upon the basis of equality and freedom for all, America acts as a stage where intensely different cultures not only coexist peacefully, but also thrive symbiotically and have created the greatest nation in the world.
We cannot be the greatest Air Force in the world unless we embrace diversity. It's a tremendous opportunity because it enables us to use creativity, fresh thinking and multiple perspectives to respond quickly and effectively to emerging warfighter needs. We want all our team members to feel valued for their culture, skills and traits, and to know they can fulfill their ambition and contribute to the success of the Air Force. We want all team members to wake each morning and feel great about coming to support the mission and enjoy being part of the Air Force. By making diversity a competitive advantage, we can make the Air Force a better place to work, better understand our diverse customers' needs, give our warfighters and customers outstanding service and products, and deliver more value to our country.
In order to meet the Nation's military requirements across the globe, the best possible workforce of military, civil service, support contractor and defense industry is desired and needed. The Air Force is committed to building and maintaining a diverse, high-quality workforce. Diversity amplifies quality in research, development, procurement and sustainment of our weapon systems leading to newer and better products. The Air Force must continue to foster diversity and create workplace environments and practices that capture the advantage of diverse perspectives as we move through the 21st century.