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NEWS | April 8, 2016

Diversity and Inclusion in Your Own Backyard

By Lt. Shannon Peifer Coast Guard Sector Charleston

In July 2015, the Coast Guard released its Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan which articulates a clear vision for cultivating a high-performing organization for the 21st century.  The goal of the vision is to create an environment where people of different backgrounds are included, valued and respected.  The plan is built on three performance goals: workforce diversity, workplace Inclusion and sustainability. 

Leadership and Diversity Advisory Councils (LDACs) throughout the Coast Guard were charged with providing diversity and inclusion training to all active duty service members.  This training provided valuable insight but it was a onetime event. 

In an effort to make diversity and inclusion an ongoing dialogue at the local level, Sector Charleston's LDAC combined with the Morale Committee to coordinate two scavenger hunts in downtown Charleston. The first was held July 2, 2015, centered on general landmarks in Charleston and the second, conducted March 8, 2016, focused on Charleston's African American history. 

As military members, we are all familiar with moving every two to four years, learning a new city and being the new person at your unit.  The goals of the scavenger hunts are to encourage teamwork and inclusion, learn about the diverse history and culture of the city we call home, have fun and get a little exercise at the same time. 

If you have spent any time in downtown Charleston, you have probably walked or driven by numerous landmarks of historical significance without even knowing it.  The scavenger hunts are designed in a way to learn something unique about locations you would not read about in your Frommer's or Lonely Planet travel guides.  Our most recent scavenger hunt was coordinated in honor of Black History Month, shedding light on notable African American people, churches and locations in downtown Charleston.   

Whether its training, scavenger hunts or multi-cultural observance events, embracing the diversity within our ranks should not be limited to once a year nor confined to individual units.  There is much to be learned in the city where we live, so start exploring!