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NSWCPD’s Black History Month Observance Highlights Inclusion

By Keegan Rammel, NSWCPD Public Affairs | NSWCPD | Feb. 7, 2020

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) kicked off Black History Month with keynote speaker, Dr. Monique Head, associate professor, University of Delaware, on Feb. 4. NSWCPD Commanding Officer Capt. Dana Simon kicked off the event by focusing on the Navy’s history of “trailblazing African Americans”, including highlighting the story of Doris “Dorie” Miller who enlisted in the Navy in 1939 as a mess attendant, working his way up to cook. Simon noted that the Navy recently announced that its newest aircraft carrier, CVN-81, would carry the name USS Doris Miller. “This will be the second ship named after Miller and the first aircraft carrier named after an African American Sailor,” said Simon prior to introducing the guest speaker to share her story. Head then discussed her path to becoming a civil engineer and shared her thoughts on the importance of leadership creating an innovative and diverse team during her presentation to NSWCPD’s workforce. According to Head, leaders need to have three characteristics to develop and foster an inclusive workforce. Leaders who are inspiring people, supporting innovation, as well as valuing diversity and inclusion will get the best out of their teams. Inspiring people is different than motivating them, Head explained. Inspired employees will find a creative way to complete the task on their own, which creates a better result for the team. “Instead of giving people a reason to do something, find a way to inspire them,” Head said. Leaders can also take steps to support innovation in the workplace. During meetings, leadership should make sure that everyone feels like their ideas are welcome and that their experiences are valued. Leaders should ensure that collaboration is encouraged, the environment is inviting, and there are no negative vibes. “People want to make contributions,” Head said. “We all want to be valued and respected.” Finally, leaders should make sure their teams are diverse and inclusive. According to Head, diversity comes in many forms, shapes, sizes, colors, as well as diversity of thought, experiences, and skill sets, but even more important than diversity is how everyone on the team comes together. Head quoted Thomas Saueressig, SAP executive board member, saying, “Diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act.” Including people from diverse backgrounds creates a better team, one that can bring a wealth of ideas to unique issues. Head builds her teams by asking questions that help her determine how the team members will act in a variety of situations. “I ask people about their hobbies; those are the skill sets that matter,” Head said. “When times get rough, what are they going to be able to bring to the table, that is what matters to me.” NSWCPD’s Technical Director, Tom Perotti, concluded the event by asking the audience a rhetorical question, “How could we be innovative without inclusion and diversity? How could we do things different without bringing in different viewpoints? The simple answer is - we cannot. It’s key to our success in our mission.” He concluded, “As a peer group serving the Navy’s mission, we all learn from each other.” NSWCPD’s African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG) hosted the Command’s Black History Month observance and will host several other events celebrating African American art, culture, and history throughout the month of February. NSWCPD employs approximately 2,700 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel doing research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service logistics engineering for Navy ships. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.