Below are the remarks as delivered:
ADMIRAL MICHAEL M. GILDAY: Thank you for making this wonderful event happen. Admiral Haney, Vice Admiral Davis, Vice Admiral Williams, Ms. Stribling, distinguished guests, partners of industry and, most of all, our sailors, Marines, soldiers, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and our Space guardians, truly thank you for your dedication to our country. It’s an honor to serve alongside you all.
I am humbled to be part of the 17th Annual BEYA Stars and Stripes Ceremony. And I look forward to recognizing this year’s winners from our Navy. And while the ceremony recognizes several awe-inspiring individuals, tonight we celebrate all of those that overcome obstacles, to engineer solutions not for personal gain but for the benefit of all. If you think about it, this ceremony is a testament to engineers everywhere. The very fact that we can hold this hybrid event across multiple networks, connecting people from all over our country, speaks to the very best of BEYA leaders in science, in technology, engineering, and in math.
While we celebrate their ingenuity, we also honor the inclusiveness of the technologies that they create and that they build. This very event demonstrates what can be achieved when you combine individual drive with the support of leadership. Now, from across the country, I come to you live to celebrate this wave of leaders that have worked tirelessly to make their communities, our military, and our world a better place. Our awardees represent a proud tradition of pioneers solving problems, breaking barriers, and always pushing us into the future.
It's been said that a nation reveals its character by those that it honors. So by presenting this award each year we honor the crucial role of Black engineers across our armed services, and we recognize these icons that have overcome structural challenges, created concrete change, and epitomized – and optimized the potential of their teams by developing a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Today our nation and the world face many challenges. Though the global pandemic seems to be waning, the title of this week’s event, “The Global Competitiveness Conference,” underscores that we are still in a critical decade.
For the first time in a generation, we face a strategic competitor with a demonstrated intent to build an exclusive order that suits their authoritarian interests. And another competitor has amassed thousands of troops to threaten the very sovereignty of a nation that simply wants to direct their own future. I truly believe that we are at an inflection point right now, and we have the opportunity to rise to the challenge. The key to our success will be leveraging our nation’s greatest asset, our people.
And to realize the full potential of all people, we need to be diverse, and we need to be inclusive. Not just in terms of race and gender, but also of thought and of background. Quite simply, if we do not change the way we think, act, attract, retain, and manage talent – and manage talent, we will not be able to compete in this century. We will need to overcome – we need to welcome diversity and we need to embrace it, and we need to use it to our advantage. That is why United States Navy, it’s our goal to be the most diverse service in the next 20 years, and one of our nation’s most diverse organizations.
As our engineers continue to build the next generation nuclear submarine, integrated unmanned technology, and hone hypersonic weapons, we must always remember that our competitive advantage begins with our people. To deter war and to promote people, leaders must build environments where we can all contribute, and where we can all grow.
My wife Linda says it best: "Diversity without inclusion is just optics." As leaders, we must know that our people, encourage those with different backgrounds and experiences, to not only feel comfortable at the table, but also feel empowered to voice their opinions and their perspectives. By prioritizing both diversity and inclusion, we can promote a force that better leverages everyone’s insights and strengths.
And so tonight we celebrate the service and the incredible careers of those engineers who represent the very best of our nation and its highest ideals. Congratulations to all of our BEYA recipients. You are an inspiration to all of our sailors across the fleet, and so many young men and women who are pushing their dreams in the STEM areas of study. It is my distinct honor to serve alongside you all. Congratulations, again. And thank you very much.
Adm. Mike Gilday
18 February 2022
24 February 2022
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