The Department of the Air Force’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force achieved another milestone June 30, when the Department’s Barrier Analysis Working Group was expanded to include an Asian American/Pacific Islander Team.
This is the sixth team to be established, joining the Senior Leader Advancement Team and four other affinity-based teams: Black/African American Employment Strategy Team, Hispanic Employment Analysis Team, Women’s Initiatives Team and Disability Team.
“Many Asian American/Pacific Islander Air Force members have little awareness of the true size and scope of our demographic in the services, and I believe the DAFBAWG team can energize these Airmen through exposure to individuals with similar backgrounds, experiences and challenges,” said Capt. Moses Lee, operations officer of the 10th Security Forces Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and a member of the newly formed DAFBAWG team. “This new team allows focused discussions to occur that can generate plans for change and address barriers specific and unique to the Asian American/Pacific Islander community. Recent national events have put a spotlight on the need to ensure equity and inclusion for underrepresented groups nationwide, giving us the momentum to pursue issues that have long been ignored or dismissed.”
The Department created the DAFBAWG in 2008 to analyze data and trends found in the personnel system of the civilian workforce. The focus of the working group has since been broadened to include military personnel.
Just prior to George Floyd’s death and the following public outcry against racial inequities, individual discrimination and systemic bias, the Department had begun to broaden the group beyond barrier analysis. It revised its charter in April and relaunched the groups. In addition, it charged all teams to augment barrier analysis and serve as Mission Resource Groups for underrepresented demographics. The Hispanic Employment Analysis Team was re-energized last year, and the Black/African American Employment Strategy Team was stood up quickly thereafter, and now the Asian/Pacific Islander team. The women’s and disability teams have been regularly active since they were created. The teams have partnered with the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and shared several initiatives and proposals for the task force to work toward implementation.
“The intent was to analyze policies, procedures and practices that could get in the way of an individual’s service,” said Gwendolyn DeFilippi, assistant deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services and senior leader advisor to the DAFBAWG. “Thanks to the grassroots inputs these groups brought forward, the Department of the Air Force has been able to address unconscious bias and procedural issues that cause members to leave.”
In addition to eliminating barriers, the MRG portion of the Department’s Barrier Analysis Groups will add another avenue through which employees, both civilian and military, receive support, mentoring and improved guidance on career development.
“Approximately 90% of Fortune 500 companies have instituted ERGs or BRGs,” said Lt. Col. LaWanda Lewis-Miles, Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Division chief. “These entities help identify talent and develop leadership to be ready to take on the larger organization’s challenges, and involvement with them often leads to higher retention rates. The new evolution of the barrier analysis teams to include MRG functions will enhance the Air Force’s mission by consolidating the motivation and innovation of historically underrepresented groups to create enterprise-focused strategies, goals and initiatives to cultivate leadership development, increase retention, as well as break barriers to advancement.”
The DAFBAWG MRG functions are modeled off of the industry concept of Business or Employee Resource Groups, which are aligned with a company’s business strategy and assist in achieving its business success. Similarly, Department of the Air Force teams are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace aligned with organizational mission, values, goals and objectives.
All six groups are filled by civilian and military volunteers drawn together by common interest or identity and a desire to leverage their experiences and expertise to drive positive change across the Department, especially in the talent management lifecycle. Members represent all organizational levels, diverse backgrounds and occupations from across the forces.
The Department currently has more than 200 members participating in these groups and the number is growing with volunteers joining these enterprise-level teams. Membership is open to all Department of the Air Force military and civilian members, regardless of demographic identity.
“The Department of the Air Force must strive to be a highly sought-after employer to the nation’s civilian professionals and youth with a desire to serve,” said Maritza Sayle-Walker, director of Air Force equal opportunity. “Once we get talent through the door, it is imperative that we retain that experience and skill to tackle the complex challenges of today’s operational environment. To retain the best, the Air Force must have a culture that allows all individuals to feel safe and included as they build both personal and professional success for themselves through teaming and operating with their fellow Air and Space Professionals. These teams are a building block to that goal.”
Those interested in getting involved with a BAWG should contact the AF/A1Q at firstname.lastname@example.org