Service members ‘lean’ on each other

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NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — On Sept. 21, 2015, the Department of Defense launched a new initiative called Lean In Circles in conjunction with an organization called LeanIn.Org.
The mission of this new program is to give service members the chance to speak and connect with other women and men in their respective units on gender issues within the work force and find ways to overcome those obstacles. United States Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, approves of this new peer-to-peer mentorship program and has seen first-hand the benefits of these networks in the workforce.
This support structure is meant to gain insight from other member’s experiences and receive advice while changing the military culture.
Col. Deanna Violette, commander of the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron and Nellis Lean In Circle mentor, expressed that participation in the organization will empower men and women to close the gender leadership gap and ensure Nellis continues to perform at the highest level.
“Our Nellis Lean In Circle provides a safe and confidential place for women and men to share openly on gender integration challenges in their workspace, encourage each other, build relationships, and share ideas and advice on some of their personal and professional goals,” said Violette. “Circles are as unique as the individuals who start them, but we all share a common bond: the power of peer support.”
With the ever changing culture in the military, initiatives such as this help guide future leaders in molding the most inclusive environment possible.
“The Air Force prides itself on being an elite, diverse group, striving for excellence,” said Jenna Lightfoot, 99th Air Base Wing community support coordinator, executive director of the community action information board and chair of the integrated delivery system. “This is to encourage the development of diverse leaders, leveraging the strengths of that unique group.”
Violette states that relationships made in the peer mentoring groups will not only improve the retention of women in the workforce but also support them in their career development and growth.
“The DOD is committed to retaining the very best of the nation’s talent and values the strengths inherent in its diverse workforce,” said Violette. “An inclusive culture, one based on respect, creates a positive work environment that cultivates innovation and attracts more talent to serve the Air Force and the nation.”
Nellis Lean In Circles are open to all members of Nellis including men, women, enlisted, officers and civilian. Circles will meet 10 times per year and the next meeting will be held March 4, 2016.
For more information on how to get started with a group, visit http://leanincircles.org/circle/nellis-lean-in-circle.