WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The Air Force Materiel Command has released the results of its initial command-wide diversity and inclusion survey, identifying areas of focus and improvement for initiatives across the command.
“The survey shows that while we are opening minds to many blind spots that would have previously gone unnoticed, we still have a lot of work to do, as we continue our efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive AFMC,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., AFMC commander. “It is imperative that we get this right. We need to have an environment where every Airman feels accepted, valued and has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. These results will help guide our continued efforts.”
It is imperative that we get this right. We need to have an environment where every Airman feels accepted, valued and has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. These results will help guide our continued efforts. - Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr.
The intent of the survey was to establish a baseline for D&I perceptions across AFMC, with future assessments planned to monitor progress towards furthering AFMC diversity, equity and inclusion. More than 14,000 military and civilian personnel responded to this survey, which ran from Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, 2020, with responses representative of personnel at all AFMC centers and installations, and military and civilian pay plans. Participants provided more than 3,500 comments in response to the open-ended portion of the survey.
Survey responses revealed that while AFMC Airmen believe the command is committed to D&I, there is a lack of widespread awareness of what steps are being taken to address climate and equity issues in many areas. In particular, results indicate a disparity in awareness of D&I initiatives and positive climate perceptions among differing supervisory levels, with those at lower ranks/grades viewing command efforts less favorably. In general, AFMC’s wage grade civilians also expressed greater frustration with the current D&I climate than others taking the survey.
“We need to readdress the way we are communicating and informing our workforce about ongoing D&I efforts and ensure that information reaches Airmen at all levels of the organization,” said Keith Tickle, AFMC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer. “In order for real change to occur, we need to make sure that we have the buy-in and participation of everyone in the command, and to do this, they need to be better aware.”
The survey revealed that approximately three-fourths of respondents noticed an increased commitment to D&I throughout AFMC in the past year. In addition, 95 percent of respondents believe their performance evaluations were not impacted by race or ethnicity. Over 88 percent of those taking the survey also shared that in the past year their immediate supervisor took appropriate action in response to incidents of racial discrimination.
One area highlighted as needing further focus was civilian hiring practices where 20 percent of all civilians stated that they believed hiring is impacted by race and/or ethnicity in their organization. While some respondents believe promotion and hiring actions are biased against blacks and females, others feel opportunities are limited based on a perceived “reverse racism” that favor minorities. Some comments also showed a misperception that there are “hiring quotas” based on race and ethnicity.
“Concerns raised by the survey indicate that many of the initiatives the command is currently working, to include centralized hiring for entry level civilian positions, diverse hiring panels for supervisor, as well as GS-14 and up selections, tracking of civilian discipline, reorganizing installation EO offices, and our recently launched civilian supervisor course are good first steps toward tackling the things AFMC military and civilian Airmen believe need fixing,” said Bill Snodgrass, AFMC’s director of Manpower, Personnel and Services.
Though 73 percent of survey respondents indicate that AFMC organizations encourage the use of the Equal Opportunity program to report and address complaints of discrimination, only 69percent believe they can use the program without fear of reprisal.
Another takeaway from the survey is that on average, 76 percent of respondents indicated they were aware that D&I sensing sessions had been held across the command. However, the awareness gap of these sessions was largest among enlisted service members and wage grade civilians, with 26 percent and 39 percent, respectively, indicating that they did not know these were occurring.
“This awareness gap shows we have to do a much better job in spreading the word and getting feedback from these vital members of our team,” said Bunch.
The information gathered from the survey will be used to adjust some of the command’s on-going activities, to include modifying the command’s communication strategy to target those who may not be tracking the on-going efforts and to encourage increased engagement by first line supervisors. AFMC D&I leads are also in the process of developing additional targeted action plans to address the short-comings identified through the assessment. Future surveys will be conducted to help gauge progress towards diversity and inclusion goals.
“We are committed to being a more diverse, inclusive AFMC. This is crucial to becoming the AFMC we need, and delivering what our nation and service expect,” said Bunch. “It will take the commitment and efforts of us all to be successful.”
For up-to-date information on AFMC diversity and inclusion efforts, visit https://www.afmc.af.mil/About-Us/Featured-Topics/Diversity/.