Equality through Diversity

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kathryn Raethel, 355th Wing Equal Opportunity non-commissioned officer in charge, holds up the group-generated profile for people whose primary "True Ciolor" is blue at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 25, 2020. The EO office conducts "True Colors" classes, teaches
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One of the biggest priorities of the Air Force is working to achieve equality.

It’s the Air Force mission to ensure everybody has equal opportunity, and is not discriminated against because of their characteristics. Luckily, the Air Force has an office to combat discrimination.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kathryn Raethel, 355th Wing Equal Opportunity non-commissioned officer in charge, packs a bag with promotional items to give away at a first duty station briefing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 25, 2020. The EO office also directs the Special Observance Program, fills advisory roles for other helping agencies and gives briefings at commander’s calls and resiliency events. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla A. Palmer)

The Equal Opportunity team at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., is here to combat unlawful discrimination and strengthen a culture that prioritizes values and respects all members of the Total Force team. They provide counseling and mentoring to the Airmen around the base, manage the unit climate assessment program, teach Human Relations Education, brief at commander’s calls and organize resiliency events.

“The EO office promotes an environment of dignity and respect for all members, regardless of their membership in any Title VII protected categories (race, color, religion, national origin, sex),” said Tech Sgt. Kathryn Raethel, NCOIC Military/Civilian Equal Opportunity. “Creating safe spaces for people to explore their own beliefs and paradigms while learning about diversity and inclusion is one of the many ways we help the base.”

Everyone is unique in the way they think, handle situations and work with others. Sometimes people in the work environment have a disagreement and if not addressed, it could cause conflict in the work place. The Airmen at EO are trained to help resolve those issues before they get out of hand.

“I love being able to help people resolve work place challenges or conflict,” said Roxanne McHugh, Equal Opportunity specialist. ”People have different viewpoints and under certain circumstances, those differences escalate to conflict. When I am able to get individuals to see each other’s viewpoints, the outcome results in a win-win for everybody. The individuals’ needs are met and now they are focused back on the mission.”

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kathryn Raethel, 355th Wing Equal Opportunity non-commissoned officer in charge, and Roxanne McHugh, 355th Wing Equal Opportunity specialist, unveil a new SmartBoard in the EO conference room at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Sept. 25, 2020. This will increase technology capabilities for innovative training sessions for other agencies around the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kayla Palmer)

When Airmen reach out to each other and address conflicts, whether professional or personal, it helps increase their value as an individual in the organization by improving compatibility. This inclusion supports them being fully-focused on the mission. Equal Opportunity helps achieve this by taming personal biases that may negatively affect people or the mission.

“We want people to know that we are here to help,” Raethel said. “EO is a helping agency and a valuable resource for the entire base community. If a person is experiencing some kind of issue in the workplace, chances are we can find them at least one resource to help resolve the matter.”

It is the Air Force’s mission to create a safe and diverse environment for its Airmen. The Equal opportunity office helps the Air Force achieve that goal by addressing workplace challenges and conflicts. This helps keep Airmen ready for the high-end fight.

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