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News | Nov. 21, 2017

Special advisor for diversity and inclusion gives DAU presentation

By Tonya Johnson DCMA Public Affairs

George P. Braxton is committed to making sure that Defense Contract Management Agency and other Department of Defense employees understand the importance of diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity in the workforce is important because it allows us to leverage the wide range of talent in the job market,” said Braxton. “Inclusion is important because it creates a workplace where people with those diverse backgrounds can feel free to be more engaged.”

Braxton, who is DCMA’s special advisor for diversity and inclusion, gave a presentation to Defense Acquisition University faculty and staff at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on Oct. 10. It was Braxton’s first time presenting at DAU.

“DAU is where a significant portion of our workforce receives training,” he said. “It is imperative that the instructors understand how DCMA values diversity and include those considerations as they teach. Additionally, DAU is also a very diverse agency with a unique mission. Increased engagement from their workforce would be a desirable outcome. Based on the awards presentation they had prior to my presentation, they are doing well.”

Kurt Stonerock, DAU’s dean of the College of Contract Management, told Braxton in an email that the faculty and staff enjoyed his presentation. 

“Without me soliciting their input, four different persons came up to me to express how much they enjoyed the presentation and how important they thought it was,” said Stonerock. “In addition, the next day, a DAU employee e-mailed me with the following input, ‘I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Mr. Braxton’s presentation. It is an important topic and his approach was refreshing and really resonated with me.’”

Braxton also travels throughout DCMA to contract management offices to give his presentation. 

“The Office of Diversity and Inclusion advances the agency’s goal of an inclusive workplace through diversity training, programs, strategy and mentoring,” he said. “We help facilitate the evolution of DCMA’s culture as one that values the uniqueness and contribution of each employee. We have presented at CMO all hands, supervisor and leadership meetings, strategic off-sites and diversity days. The idea is to make us aware of what we can do to help DCMA’s goal to have an inclusive workforce.”

Throughout his career, which includes federal and non-federal service, Braxton said he has seen people now better understand diversity and its benefits.

“I think people embrace diversity more than used to, but not always wittingly,” he said. “The more we interact with people who have differences from us, the more we realize it is the similarities — the common ground — that really matters. We also may find ourselves appreciating other ways to address issues as we see those issues resolved. The challenge we have is to avoid assuming the only people, training, process, et cetera, that would lead to ideal results are the ones we are familiar with. The more we interrupt that type of bias the more we will evolve.”

According to Braxton, most people aren’t aware of their biases.

“First, we have to be willing to admit we have biases and take it upon ourselves to challenge those thoughts,” noted Braxton. “Where did you hear that? Was the source credible? Do you really know someone that fits that bias or have you been influenced to believe?”

In the future, Braxton would like to work with DCMA employees to expand employee resource groups. ERGs are groups of employees with a common interest coming together to advance the agency’s mission and goals. 

“I would love to see the expansion of our employee resource groups,” said Braxton. “The veterans ERG, led by Sylvia Robinson at headquarters, has done a great job. I would love to see that group expand to other regions and other ERGs to come on board.”

Braxton said he enjoys his job and looks forward to continuing to inform others about diversity and inclusion, whether at DCMA or another federal agency. 

“I love making organizations better,” he said. “Here at DCMA, so many people are experts in process improvement and that makes us better. I have been very impressed by them. 

“I believe diversity and inclusion widens our talent pool and gives us the opportunity to have a more engaged workforce that leads to them to innovate and improve our workplace and processes. That also makes us better.” Braxton added. “Having the opportunity to introduce an idea, new concepts and different research to talented people who may not have considered it before is everything to me.”