FORT LEE, Va. –
Defense Contract Management Agency’s Inclusion in the Workplace Integrated Product Team champions diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility efforts as a pillar of the agency’s structural goal to create an ideal workplace environment.
“Short-term goals include assisting the agency in developing and implementing initiatives to improve inclusivity and helping establish an inclusive organizational climate,” said Yesenia Ibarra, a terminations contracting officer at DCMA Carson, California, and IPT member. “Long-term goals aim to build on current initiatives where employees feel they are included and have a sense of belonging; to provide tools to cultivate a culture that encourages flexibility, collaboration, diversity and fairness enabling employees to contribute to their full potential and retention; and to build a diverse and inclusive organization to recruit and maintain a modern workforce.”
Ibarra and the team are mirroring the DCMA program after Defense Department efforts, which are led by the Federal Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Initiative Team. The team comprises: the Office of Personnel Management ODEIA; the Office of Management and Budget; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and the White House Domestic Policy Council.
In a July press release “Building a Better Workforce for the American People,” OPM defined the federal initiative:
“As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should be a model for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, where all employees are treated with dignity and respect. We are at our best when drawing upon all parts of society, and our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.”
When the IPT formed, DCMA leadership hoped its work would help deliver on the promise of these ideals. While the process remains ongoing, Ibarra, who welcomed the opportunity to join the group, is proud of the team’s work so far.
“Our diverse group of volunteers have worked to better define inclusion and introduce new initiatives that will improve the development of employee’s needs,” she said. “This team will continue to influence and create positive change for a more inclusive work environment. DCMA continues to strive in promoting projects and implementing initiatives that will give team members a voice and allow them to feel heard and included. In this way, they can continue to thrive and be their best self in the workplace and at home.”
White House Executive Order 14035 created the DEIA initiative and directed agencies to follow a timeline to execute the government’s DEIA mission and vision.
OPM outlined the order priorities:
• Promoting Partnerships and Recruitment
• Utilizing Data Collection and Analysis
• Advancing Professional Development
• Expanding Employment Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals
• Promoting Paid Internships
• Creating Chief Diversity Officers
• Promoting Pay Equity
• Providing DEIA Training & Learning
• Advancing Equity for LGBTQI+ Employees
• Advancing Equity for Employees with Disabilities
• Ensuring Safe Workplaces
During a June Pentagon town hall meeting, Stacy Cummings, who is performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the State Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, discussed diversity and inclusion.
“The (secretary of defense) looks at the department, leading through values. And diversity, equity and inclusion are part of our values as a country and our values as a department,” said Cummings. “His intention is that we incorporate that into our work and everything that we do. It is a strategic imperative, and it’s critical to mission success and accomplishment that diversity and inclusion are included in our strategies.”
For any large institution within a competitive employment environment, hiring the best and brightest remains key to strategic organizational health.
“The way that I personally think about diversity and inclusion is from the perspective of competing for talent,” said Cummings. “In order for us ... to get the best possible capability, we need to have a structure and an environment that incorporates the totality of the United States of America as well as the capabilities of our allies and partners. And if we want to get the best skills, the best capability, the best thought, the best innovation, the only way for us to do that is to encourage everyone to want to compete to be part of our team.”