Recognizing, understanding, valuing diversity add to mission success

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When was the last time you noticed that someone you talked to was very different from you? Did you feel the person was right or wrong because of the differences between you? Our Air Force is a very diverse team with people from all walks of life.

According to Dr. Stephen B. Knouse, professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, factors that make all of us different include race, ethnicity, sex and age. Additional factors that add to our differences are education, income, personality, values and geographic location. With that said, diversity has the potential of bringing several positive factors to teams.
One positive factor a diverse team offers is having a wider perspective on problem solving. Having a team where everyone thinks the same limits creativity when trying to find alternate solutions to problem solving. Another positive of a diverse team is that it brings a larger set of knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences for meeting the organizational mission.
Dr. Knouse's research says that diversity management is accomplished by recognizing, understanding and valuing diversity. This can be accomplished through communication, education, policies, programs, selection, retention, mentoring, leadership and individual accountability. The next opportunity you have to share the importance of diversity whether one on one or with your team, jump at the opportunity.

Are there ever challenges with diverse teams? The answer is yes. However, Dr. Knouse says that with the proper tools obstacles and challenges can be resolved. It is important for us as individuals and as a team to recognize, understand and value diversity. As long as we continue to respect each other as different individuals, our Air Force team will continue benefit from our diversity.

Editor's note:  Capt. Hugo Escobar is the director of the 302nd Airlift Wing's Equal Opportunity Office. The primary objective of the Equal Opportunity (EO) program is to improve mission effectiveness by promoting an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent Air Force members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible, based on their individual merit, fitness, and capability. For more information or assistance the 302nd EO office can be contacted at 719-556-8180.