DAHLGREN, Va. –
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI): three words that are easy to say but hard to achieve. At Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), the push to truly achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce takes action.
“When folks are respected and we work in inclusive environments, we are more creative, more innovative and definitely more successful in what we do,” said NSWCDD Commanding Officer Stephen ‘Casey’ Plew during his opening remarks of the Virtual Community Cultural Celebration, Aug. 13. “America was founded on this ideal that ‘through the many, we are one.’ The whole is much greater than the sum of our parts. The inclusive environment that we are creating here and the diversity of our folks is absolutely key to the future of our Navy.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office at NSWCDD hosted the online event featuring different types of multi-cultural celebrations, ranging from recipes and holiday traditions to songs and music. Performances during the celebration featured the Culpeper County High School Band, United River Band and NSWCDD Dam Neck Activity (DNA) EEO Officer Marcus Matthews (also known as D.J. Hype).
Some of the multi-cultural celebrations discussed by NSWCDD and NSWCDD DNA employees included Easter and Christmas traditions and a unique way to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Appalachia called fireballing, which is when long strips of fabric are knotted into a ball, soaked in kerosene and lit on fire, then tossed around.
Leaders from across NSWCDD took the opportunity to communicate how each department emphasizes DEI individually. In total, more than 170 attendees participated in the three-hour virtual event.
Inclusion is defined as, “the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups.” The promotion and encouragement of a diverse workforce creates an inclusive, equitable workforce advocating for the common goal to protect the warfighter.
One department head at NSWCDD shared instances where she unintentionally made biased decisions based on who she thought would be interested. “Those instances of bias happen even when you have the best intentions,” she explained.
“The perspectives on diversity and inclusion are enlightening,” an online participant observed during the discussion. “One aspect of inclusion is that historically, great contributions have always been made from different peoples, but they were in the background due to cultural oppression. Inclusion seeks to repair damage from this evil.”