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Diversity 101

What is diversity? Diversity is variety.  It includes all the characteristics, experiences, and differences of each individual.  Diversity can be identified as physical characteristics such as skin color and gender, or it may be differences in culture, skills, education, personality type, or upbringing.  Each of these traits brings their own perspective and skills to the workplace.

What's the difference between diversity and EEO? Diversity is a process concerned with equity or fairness. Unlike EEO, it's not legally required, is based on choice, and includes everyone. The diversity process aims to improve awareness of others that will lead to positive behavioral changes. Human Resources champions diversity.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is distinct from diversity and focuses on equality and equal access. It's legally-based and primarily concerned with protected classes. Compliance with EEO policy is mandated by law. EEO employs corrective and preventative measures for discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, and equal opportunity. The Office of Civil Rights handles EEO, and they manage the complaint process.

Why does the Coast Guard care about diversity?  A diverse workforce provides a variety of perspectives and talents that will enhance the workplace. A diverse workforce allows an organization to capitalize on these strengths and become stronger and more capable.

In order to maximize its effectiveness and efficiency, the Coast Guard needs the best possible people to work as a team. If a group is excluded, the Coast Guard loses the skills and talents of members of that group, which reduces the potential quality of the organization.

An inclusive work environment is also critical. To work at its best, a team needs to trust and respect each other. If a member feels excluded or marginalized, he/she is less inclined to work with the team, trust the other members, or add input. This becomes especially dangerous when people notice a safety concern, but the don't feel like they can speak up. Additionally, targeted individuals are more likely to leave the Coast Guard, which results in a loss of training, talent, and experience.

Is diversity only about women and minorities? No. While race, gender, and physical characteristics are easily identifiable differences, and therefore, the most apparent aspects of diversity, there are many other dimensions of diversity. Diversity dimensions can be internal, external, and organizational.

Here are some examples: Regional origin  (Southern U.S. v. Midwest) Political party  affiliation (Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc.) Religion Personality type  (introvert vs. extrovert) Rate (MK, YN) Education level

As Guardians, Coast Guard members are expected to treat each other professionally and respectfully regardless of individual differences.

Why should I care about diversity?

Work environment directly affects unit performance. We all want to contribute to a productive and positive work environment. Such an environment enhances effectiveness, increases job satisfaction, and retains valuable employees. Whether it's a boarding team, an AVDET, or a staff unit, the mission suffers when members can't work as a team.