To continue the discussion on diversity, the Department of the Interior hosted an event to elaborate on the tactical implementation of agency’s Inclusive Workplace Strategy. This event served as a follow-up to last week’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership in the 21st Century put on by the Partnership for Public Service.
The talk consisted of a panel of dedicated leaders who are promoting a culture of diversity within the DOI as well as its departments—particularly, the US Geological Survey and Fish and Wildlife Service.
The FWS is working on a diverse workforce to maintain diverse species.
The government panelist included:
John Burden – Chief Diversity Officer, U.S. Department of the Interior
Rowan Gould – Deputy Director, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Inez Uhl – Chief, Office of Diversity and Inclusive Workforce Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Bill Werkheiser – Acting Deputy Director, US Geological Survey
Alesia Pierre-Louis – Chief, Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, US Geological Survey
Below are a few important highlights from the discussion.
Approach Diversity & Inclusion Constructively
One of the main points among all speakers was that diversity should not be a check-box item for agencies. Rather, supporting a diverse and inclusive federal workforce should be approached as a mission-driving imperative in building sustainable and dynamic agencies of the future.
Collaborate vs. Command & Control
Uhl emphasized that folks need to take a collaborative approach to diversity, instead of using a command-and-control, strictly top-down directive. Mandating diversity and relying metrics leads to superficial results. In order to build an organizational culture for appreciating diversity and promoting inclusion, folks need to work together at all agency levels.
1) Weave into Existing Training
When asked how to build a diverse senior leadership, Gould stated that diversity should be weaved into training curriculum. He said that diversity should not be a dedicated course, but included as an underlying theme and focus area in existing leadership curriculum. Werkheiser added that diversity is included in the Leadership 201 course at the USGS, leading in constructive discussions among participants.
2) Include Community Partnerships
When asked about community collaboration, Uhl answered with the example of how the FWS service found an opportunity to engage with the Steve Harvey Foundation to promote the sciences among young people. A FWS colleague was able to leverage a connection in order to make this happen, showing the importance of collaboration both internally and externally. Gould also added that the FWS is also starting to work with the leading Latino media company, Univision, to extend their outreach.
3) Early Outreach
The USGS and FWS rely on the recruitment of scientists – geologists, botanists, species specialists, and others – to continue their mission. Both organizations acknowledge that young people need to become passionate in these areas. Pierre-Louis highlighted the importance of early outreach to get diverse groups of young people interested in earth sciences. For example, the she talked about how the USGS conducts various youth outreach programs to middle to high schoolers, with the over 20% minority representation.
4) Discuss Regularly
Burden told us that previous DOI Secretary Salazar regularly asked his leadership staff to report on diversity and inclusion among bureaus. These consistent update requests pushed DOI leaders to ensure that diversity was being discussed and fostered across workforces.
Read the Partnership’s latest report on diversity and inclusion in federal agencies here.