VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Nearly 500 personnel from the Norfolk area took part in the 12th semiannual Fleet Diversity Council, held Nov. 3 aboard Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
The session, hosted by the Navy's Diversity Directorate and U.S. Fleet Forces Command, aimed to inform the fleet of the strategic role of diversity and motivate Navy personnel to become active participants in the Navy's diversity efforts.
Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter, commander, Navy Warfare Development Command, kicked off the session by sharing her thoughts on the benefits of a diverse total force.
"Diversity is one of the most important imperatives we have in the Navy today, and really across our entire country," said Carpenter. "It makes us better as an organization, it makes us more strategic, and it frankly makes us the finest fighting force in the world because of that diversity and because we can represent the face of America."
Carpenter, the Navy's first female naval aviator to reach flag rank, shared with the audience her perspective on appreciating the talents each member of the team brings to the table, and the unique role of leaders in promoting diversity.
"No matter what your seniority is, or what your rank is, every one of you can be very significant in your life, and one of the ways you can be significant in your life is to understand and embrace diversity; promote diversity as a leader," said Carpenter. "Diversity is not just about numbers. It's about how you utilize your team, how you capitalize on their individual talents, and how you develop them as people."
Capt. Ken Barrett, Navy diversity director, explained the importance of Carpenter's participation in the program.
"Leadership engagement in today's Fleet Diversity Council is critical," said Barrett. "It is important to be able to share that leaders are committed to the Navy's diversity strategy and committed to making sure that Sailors understand it's a priority in everything we do. Diversity is critical to mission accomplishment, and that was the message today."
Headlining the session was renowned speaker Dr. Samuel Betances. Betances, who is both biracial and bilingual, is regarded as a leading communicator on diversity, and has served as a consultant to U.S. presidents, CEOs and community leaders on the strategic role of diversity in the workforce.
During his presentation, Betances stressed the importance of mentorship, and the need to develop the unique talents of each member of the team.
"Diversity is not about replacing good talent, it is about growing the talent that we need in an increasingly diverse United States Navy," said Betances.
"In the all-volunteer military, we do not have surplus talent," continued Betances. "We are competing with everyone else, so you must understand you need to grow your people, because people do not quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. You do not want your people to quit you. Diversity says, recruit, and grow and retain the talent that we need."
Barrett stressed that the purpose of the council is not just to get the diversity message to the fleet, but also to channel feedback on the Navy's diversity program directly to senior leadership.
"The Fleet Diversity Council is one of the best opportunities to be able to get direct feedback from the Sailors, and that's really what this is all about," said Barrett. "Not only are participants able to give verbal feedback during the forum itself, but they also have critiques and feedback forms that will actually be delivered to the chief of naval operations, so he can see what's on Sailors' minds with respect to the topic of diversity."
The next Fleet Diversity Council will be held on the west coast during the Spring of 2011.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel - Diversity Directorate, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp-diversity/.