We recognize the lack of safe spaces within the Coast Guard for members to feel they are able to express themselves and have psychological safety. We believe psychological safety is the foundation that a successful and effective workforce is built upon. Therefore we hold ourselves to this:
1) This is a SAFE environment
This group seeks to create a space where LGBQTIA+ folx & Allies feel safe to talk about their own feelings regarding social justice, racism, gender identity, and various forms of systemic oppression, including within our day to day lives and service.
2) This is an ALL INCLUSIVE place
Absolutely no homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism, classism, colorism or weight shaming will be tolerated.
3) This is a RESPITE from daily life
Being a LGBQTIA+ or Ally, can be difficult. This group will strive to be a safe place for those that understand that struggle. A much needed respite from an overwhelmingly white cisgender world, to replenish yourself, and be in community
CG Spectrum has adopted the following framework for our affinity group:
To serve the American people successfully and compassionately, the Coast Guard must achieve workforce equity and diversity in support of its mission readiness and innovation. It is imperative, however, to first build psychological safety, moral courage, and cultural competence. The foundation of this framework begins with psychological safety, which is defined as a service culture where all members have the confidence to serve as their authentic selves where self-knowledge, initiative, creativity, and self-empowerment are rewarded in an environment of interpersonal risk-taking (Edmonson, 2011).
Research shows that psychological safety is the most significant component of high performing individuals and teams across an organization (Work, 2015). The Coast Guard must commit itself to creating a culture where there is genuine care about the dignity and well-being of its people, so that individuals are valued and bring their whole and authentic selves to work or to the classroom. Employees, and in particular, systematically marginalized groups of people, must be able to share their perspectives and contribute to organizational solutions without fear of marginalization, retaliation, bullying, or discrimination.
The Coast Guard must create a climate where psychological safety is at its core; it cannot be an afterthought, it must imbue the culture, decisions and policies of the organization. Assessing and building psychological safety must involve decision-makers, subject matter experts, policy-makers, and survivors. Because of the nature of safety, it is imperative to ensure that the people most negatively affected by systematic failures are on the forefront for change and a beacon for progress. To lead change, policy and decision makers must critically examine gaps, blind spots and shortcomings in existing doctrine and implement solutions leveraging subject matter experts, survivors and systematically marginalized groups of people. Research demonstrates that any form of oppression can have a significant and negative impact on both mental and physical health for all members of a workplace environment, and disproportionately affects systematically marginalized groups of people (Workplace Strategies, n.d.).
Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and all other types of oppression can take on overt and covert, blatant and subtle, and conscious and unconscious forms. For true psychological safety, the organization must be fully committed to eliminating all forms of oppression.
Building upon psychologically safe work environments, the Coast Guard must create a morally courageous workforce, where all members have an immediate bias for action to intervene against any culture or practice that inhibits the safety of any of our members. Sekerka et al. 2011 note that “managers who treat ethics as a routine activity, by holding people accountable, encouraging reflection and discourse around ethical issues, and responding to challenges with moral courage, can help prepare fellow organizational members to identify and address similar issues before they become full-blown problems”.
Coast Guard members must have the moral courage to intervene against violations of laws, policies, or the Coast Guard core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. Although managers may instinctually prefer employee behaviors that support the status quo, it is important to encourage and value those workers who are willing to speak up and challenge existing conditions (Edmondson and Zhike, 2014).
Leaders across our workforce must instill a culture where members not only feel safe to speak up, but also have the full support, tools, and skills to do so. Developing a “speak up” culture requires humility, patience, compassion, active listening and critical thinking. Additional skills include facilitating constructive argument, giving actionable feedback, taking advice from the team (and acting on it), sharing credit for team success, and maintaining regular contact with team members (Harvard Business Review, 2016).
The Coast Guard should highlight this approach with examples from other industries such as health care or aviation, to demonstrate how speaking up can save lives and has become integral to the success of their mission. Survivors who have demonstrated exceptional moral courage within the Coast Guard and have tangible experience should be essential role models within the organization.
By learning from the experience of others, policy- makers should examine gaps in policies and assess any workforce barriers, such as the prevalence of retaliation, to developing a morally courageous workforce.
Cross et al., 1989 describe five primary competencies required to develop cultural competence:
1. Valuing diversity
2. Having the capacity for cultural self-assessment
3. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact
4. Having institutionalized cultural knowledge
5. Having developed adaptations to service delivery reflecting an understanding of cultural diversity
As the Coast Guard endeavors to holistically establish and develop cultural competence from a place of personal safety and through moral courage, each of these five elements must be evident in policy and practice throughout the organization. Developing cultural competence systematically within a workforce requires subject-matter expertise and involvement by systemically marginalized groups.
For example, the Coast Guard should have individuals, both as internal or external subject matter experts in race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, education, job position, intersectionality, etc. develop training, education, and new cultural norms for employee engagement.
Working effectively in cross-cultural interactions combined with moral courage, will lead to a bias for compassion and tangible action to prevent and respond to social injustices and inequities within the workforce.
Individuals must be rewarded for continually developing their cultural competence by increasing their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and awareness about themselves, cultures, institutions, and our organizational systems. The Coast Guard will need to engender cultural competence “...at every level of [the] organization including policy making, administrative, and practice. Further these elements should be reflected in the attitudes, structures, policies and services of the organization.” (Cross et al., 1989).
A climate of inclusion can be defined as individuals perceiving acceptance within the organization, as well as the ability to bring unique contributions to the workplace (Brimhall, 2018). As the organization achieves greater cultural competence the unique contributions of its individuals will be more readily recognized and valued.
To be effective and sustainable, inclusion must rest on a foundation of psychological safety and cultural competence and involve subject-matter experts and systematically marginalized groups in policy-setting and decision-making. Organizations must ensure that the perspectives and ideas of marginalized groups are respected and infused into policy and practice. A review of the book “Meltdown” by Chris Clearfield and András Tilcsik, found that, “as much as we’re predisposed to agree with a group, our willingness to disagree increases dramatically if the group is diverse; deference dissipates...Homogeneity may facilitate ‘smooth, effortless interactions,’ according to the authors, but diversity drives better decisions” (Shaywitz, 2018).
Organizations that have invested in building psychological safety, moral courage, and cultural competence, will be better suited to
foster inclusion and overcome any perceived discomforts with disagreements. Inclusivity “requires the re-examination of mission statements; policies and procedures; administrative practices; staff recruitment, hiring and retention; professional development and in-service training; translation and interpretation processes; family/professional/community partnerships; health care practices and interventions including addressing racial/ethnic health disparities and
access issues; health education and promotion practices/materials; and community and state needs assessment protocols” (Denboba, 1993).
In the traditional sense, diversity refers to the state of having distinct or unlike elements. In the workplace environment, diversity means employing workers who are different from each other or come from different backgrounds. Jayne and Dipboye (2004) suggest that extending the concept of diversity from attributes such as race, gender, age, etc., to the entire spectrum of human differences, is crucial to efforts to recruit, retain and develop employees from
systematically marginalized groups while creating internal structures to sustain an effective diversity program.
Diversity competence, at both the organizational and individual level, helps organizations to remain competitive (De Anca and Vega, 2007) by unbridling creativity, encouraging innovation and by reducing the gap between increasingly diverse customers. In the case of the Coast Guard, the customer is the American public.
As discussed at every stage of the framework, diversity programs must be based on input from subject-matter experts and systematically marginalized groups of people. Without psychological safety, moral courage, cultural competence, and inclusion, diversity will be unsustainable and efforts to diversify willbe harmful to systematically marginalized groups of people who are often ignored or dismissed when diversity programs are developed and implemented.
The concept of equity goes far beyond fair treatment of everyone. When equity exists within an organization, employees not only have equal opportunities but are also are accepted, valued, heard and included for their differences. One interpretation of “equity” is grounded in the equity theory, which is a positive theory pertaining to individual conceptions of fairness (Wijk, 1993) and establishes a relationship between fairness and employee effort, i.e., the ratio of contributions and benefits.
When an equitable workplace environment exists, benefits such as increased work productivity, improved retention and the ability to attract new employee talent is realized and the breadth of diversity within the organization matures. When organizations review their equity data, they may lean towards “recruiting” to close gaps without understanding the root causes of how their own systems and overlapping systems disproportionately harm certain employees.
"Beyond Buzzwords and Bystanders: A Framework for Systematically Developing a Diverse, Mission Ready, and Innovative Coast Guard Workforce" (2019)
K. Young-McLear, S. Zelmanowitz, R. James, D. Brunswick, T. DeNucci
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