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NEWS | Oct. 28, 2015

DIVERSITY BRINGS STRENGTH TO TEAM CHARLESTON

By Col. Richard Mathews 628th Mission Support Group commander

Diversity is essential for highly effective commonality of purpose.  On the surface this may appear to be a contradiction, how can there be similarities and a common environment if everything around you is diverse and different?  The people you interact with on a daily basis grew up in different locations and have different backgrounds, experiences and cultures.  The natural environment around you on Joint Base Charleston and in the Lowcountry, when you are on personal time, has varied trees, plants, birds and all kinds of wildlife.  Even the many cars and motorcycles commuting with you on the road to work are broadly diverse in color, size and function.

There are over 23,000 different people serving on Joint Base Charleston in over 900 facilities across 24,000 acres.  Our team is comprised of more than 60 mission partners performing missions that have significant impact across our nation and throughout the world.  These missions include training over 5000 sailors per year to operate nuclear reactors for the most powerful Navy in the world.  Last year, our Weapons Station port loaded more than 150,000 pieces of cargo on over 70 vessels to position our nation's military capabilities around the world.  In addition, our C-17s moved over 140,000 tons of cargo and 88,000 passengers across the globe.  Finally, Joint Base Charleston supports more than 90,000 military, civilian, retirees and their families with medical, commissary and a variety of other services.  We are able to accomplish these amazing feats because of our diversity.  If we were all the same, mission effectiveness would suffer.

In your workplace, I expect you will agree the people around you are individuals with differing ideas and beliefs.  As you interact with each other, you learn about different places people have lived, different work places, different cultures and traditions, different tastes in food, music, clothes, hobbies and many other aspects about each other.  Sometimes as we share experiences, we may try new food or a new hobby that had been unknown until our teammate told us about it.  Sometimes we'll try something our teammate suggested and realize "It is not for me."  Either way, our experiences and horizons are broadened.

It is critical to accept and embrace the diversity around you with dignity and respect.  In such an environment, diversity will flourish.  Each of us bring different strengths and weaknesses to the team.  In a respectful environment, we can leverage each other's strengths and minimize our weaknesses.  We can listen to ideas brought  from a variety of experiences. The diverse teams we have at Joint Base Charleston are essential for effective commonality of purpose--our common goal of outstanding mission success, taking care of ourselves, each other and our families, while enjoying the life a diverse world offers us.