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NEWS | June 8, 2016

Embrace diversity - lead from the front

By Col. Greg Gilmour, commander 315th Airlift Wing

Often times when we hear terms like diversity and inclusion, we think of them more as buzz words or a way to hold someone accountable for not doing the right thing.

But what does diversity actually mean to us in the Air Force?  To me, it's simple, place the right people in the right positions to execute our mission!

I recently had the opportunity to reflect on this after I selected the incoming 315th Maintenance Group commander, who just happens to be a woman.  Looking over our organization I realized that in a male dominated community, we are certainly unique.  Soon, the three group commanders in the 315 AW, our vice wing commander and one O-6 squadron commander will all be females. 

In the Air Force, women comprise 29 percent of the total force and according to a recent study by Diversity Central, in the civilian sector; women only hold six percent of chief executive roles in America. 

So, this may leave a person to wonder, why do women hold two thirds of the senior leader positions in the 315 AW?  The answer is simple.  We placed the right people in the right positions to move our mission, regardless of the visible or invisible attributes contributing to diversity within our ranks.  These attributes include things like gender, race and age as well as education, religion or sexual orientation, just to name a few.

So, does this mean the days of inequality are over and the glass ceiling has been shattered?  Certainly not...  We have a long way to go.  But, if we recognize there are cultural and stereotypical biases in each one of us, and fight to overcome those biases, we will be well on our way to leveling the playing field for all Airman. 

I think about how, as an Air Force, we can continue this trend of promoting the best and brightest? My answer is by leveraging the best talent we have and capitalizing on opportunities.  I can tell you that the process does not start at the wing commander level, it starts with every Airman and every supervisor.  I charge every one of you to personally evaluate your internal biases, regardless of how small, set them aside and always continue to push our Air Force forward. 

I would love to see a day when statistics are no longer needed and the best individual is always pushed to the top, regardless of gender.  We have the world's most powerful Air Force; not because of our weapons systems but because of our Airmen.  So, take care of each other, embrace your core value of integrity first and always and recognize your best and brightest... no matter what!