NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The Fleet Diversity Council hosted a meeting at the Breezy Point Officers Club on board Naval Station Norfolk, Sept. 17.
Senior leadership and deckplate Sailors were in attendance to learn about the Navy's progress and future plans to support the Chief of Naval Operations' (CNO) diversity policy.
Master Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Bennie Gloria, program manager for Command Managed Equal Opportunity training and Command Training Team Indoctrination at the Center for Personal and Professional Development in Virginia Beach, said the day-long gathering provided a good forum to learn more on the CNO's message of diversity.
"We have to be a reflection of America in general," said Gloria. "Minorities are a huge part of the population; that has to be a reflection in the military also. It's important to show representation that we are as diverse of a military as we are a country."
Gloria emphasized the need to train people effectively and to keep diversity from being the reason why people get ahead in the Navy.
"It shouldn't be based on the color of skin," she said. "It's hard work, knowing what you have to do to get promoted. We do not want to advance people just to satisfy diversity."
Capt. Ken Barrett, Navy diversity director for the Chief of Naval Personnel in Washington, was on hand to discuss the progress the Navy has made to increase diversity awareness.
"We met with a group of experts, enterprises and community outreach programs," said Barrett. "And we presented our leadership with training pieces so they can communicate that message clearly and coherently, [ensuring] that it makes it all the way down to the deckplates.
"We want to make sure everybody understands where we are, where we are going, what the challenges are and what the next steps are, so we can continue in the direction the Navy needs to go to attract top talent," he said.
Senior leadership from throughout Hampton Roads also attended the meeting where they received an overview of the program, participated in a brainstorming session and received updates on changes made to improve the Navy's diversity campaign. The event gave those who attended the opportunity to voice their concerns and gain insight on how leadership feels things should be done.
Gloria also said one focus was to see how robust and effective the Navy is at ensuring talent is identified, promoting that talent and maintaining it in the Navy.
"We are always going to look for the best person," said Gloria. "We are not going to strive for diversity for diversity's sake; however, the reality is that there is diverse talent in many diverse pools. It's a battle for talent and to be able to penetrate those many markets and giving opportunity to all."
Barrett addressed the steps that the Navy has taken to reinforce the importance of diversity in the sea service.
"Our Sailors complete general military training modules on diversity," Barrett explained. "You get a little at Recruit Training Command; you get a little at the leadership class when you make petty officer, and the same at the senior enlisted academy. We work very hard to implement it in our training continuum. The same is true for officers. We've done a lot to make sure there is a consistent message throughout.
"The strategic communication comes with reinforcement, but the challenge is to make sure it is resonating on the deckplate level," he added. "I think that is a pulse that I want to be able to get today."
Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, stated in his diversity policy, "Future empowerment is cultivated by that same leadership and mentorship and an active commitment to attracting and recruiting the very best."
Barrett summarized diversity as, "a leadership issue. Clearly we want to make sure that we progressing to attract top talent in every piece of our country and make sure that they have the opportunity to come in and excel in our organization.
"The critical aspect to me is extending the hand to all," he concluded.
For more news about the Navy's diversity program, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity.