NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Equal opportunity is an important function in any workplace, and the United States Navy is no exception. Unique to the Navy is the implementation of the Command-Managed Equal Opportunity, or CMEO, program at every command in the fleet.
Today, CMEO functions as an agent for conflict resolution and equal opportunity at every Navy command, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
While command CMEOs are responsible for the CMEO program at a command level, departmental CMEOs are responsible for the execution of the Equal Opportunity (EO) program on a departmental level. The scope of their duties may be limited to only one department, but this allows a closer, more personal connection between each Sailor and the EO program.
“The EO program supports the ship's mission by strengthening the command climate and ensuring the fair treatment of all sailors,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Anthony Jones, a command CMEO representative aboard George Washington. “That makes for a stronger fighting force because Sailors that enjoy coming to work and like the environment at work are more productive in supporting the mission.”
One of the primary functions of the EO and CMEO programs is the ability for Sailors to seek resolution to perceived discrimination.
“The Equal Opportunity program is designed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a parent, or any other impermissible basis,” said Jones. “EO promotes the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a continuing diversity and inclusion program.”
The mission of the EO program and its implementation means a lot to Jones personally.
“EO matters to me because I believe all Sailors should be treated fairly, and they need to feel like they are an important part of this organization,” said Jones. “The only way the [George Washington], and the Navy as a whole, will succeed is if we have a properly trained and properly treated crew.”
Departmental CMEO representatives focus on supporting their individual department’s Sailors.
“My job is to promote an environment free from personal, social, or institutional barriers that prevent service members from rising to the highest level of responsibility possible,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Nicollette Jeffery, intelligence department’s CMEO representative. “I also educate my department in the complaint procedure and process and evaluate CMEO complaints within the intelligence department.”
If a Sailor feels discriminated against, they can seek recourse through the CMEO program.
“If you feel you have been wronged, your first step is to talk to your departmental CMEO representative,” said Jeffery. “You may file an informal, formal, or anonymous report. The preferred method of filing a formal complaint is by submitting a NAVPERS 5354/2.”
NAVPERS 5354/2 is an official Navy report form that allows someone to detail harassment or unlawful discrimination. However, there are also several different routes to seek resolution.
“You can also ask for mediation or training, file a reference form, contact a Navy investigator general, or contact your elected official, like a congressman,” said Jeffery. “Regardless of how you want to handle it, your command and departmental CMEOs are here to help and guide you along.”
Despite this, some Sailors have incorrect beliefs about the CMEO program.
“Many Sailors choose not to file a complaint because they think there won't be any resolution, or the issue will just be ‘swept under a rug,’” said Jeffery. “That is not the case. When someone files a CMEO complaint, that complaint is reported to the command climate specialist or CMEO program manager within 24 hours, either directly from the member or via the chain of command [or] department CMEO representative. After an investigation, a resolution will be implemented.”
Regardless of rank or standing, the CMEOs of George Washington stand ready to assist Sailors in need. Sailors interesting in submitting a complaint to the CMEO program or becoming a CMEO representative themselves should reach out to their departmental CMEO, the command CMEOs, Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Karla Krasnoselsky, or the command climate specialist, Chief Interior Communications Electrician General Livingston.
Through the efforts of CMEOs and Sailors looking out for other Sailors, commands ensure that the workplace is one conducive to all personnel and one that supports and enhances command and Navy objectives.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.