By Senior Airman Alexi Bosarge, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 14, 2021
Members of Team McConnell pose for a photo June 8, 2021, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. During 2020, the Air Force created diversity and inclusion task forces in units across the branch. This team of diverse Airmen across McConnell meets to discuss where the workplace could improve and what they feel is lacking throughout all rank tiers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexi Bosarge)
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – Diversity and inclusion have become a defining quality in the Air Force and Team McConnell is doing its part to continue making changes for all Airmen.
Since the establishment of the Air Force in 1947, there have been constant changes and continuous improvements made to better the force. Seventy-four years later, Air Force leadership is continuing efforts towards diversity and inclusion. In the early years of the Air Force, changes focused predominantly on gender and racial equality and who was allowed to join the Armed Forces.
In today’s Air Force, initiatives have transitioned to support diversity and inclusion efforts, putting an emphasis on the cultural differences and racial disparities Airmen feel at all ranks. McConnell implemented their first Diversity and Inclusion task force for the installation in March 2020.
“The changes the Air Force is making show Airmen that it is okay to show up as who you are,” said Sarah Sell, 22nd Wing Staff Agencies violence prevention integrator. “We are seeking feedback from all levels of Airmen and I am excited to take this feedback directly to the top where decisions are made.”
During 2020, the Air Force created task forces in units across the branch. McConnell’s team is composed of 42 diverse Airmen across the installation that meet to discuss where the workplace could improve and what they feel is lacking throughout all ranks.
“The Department of the Air Force is committed to enabling all Airmen and Guardians to thrive in a diverse and highly inclusive environment,” said Tawanda Rooney, a career member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service and acting senior advisor on Diversity and Inclusion. “Our office will lead this charge and continue all the good work the Task Force initiated. Diversity and inclusion are warfighting imperatives and we need to capitalize on all available talent by enabling a culture of inclusion where every member is respected and valued for his or her identity, culture and background.”
The Air Force plans on implementing lasting efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in all environments by continuing to change and improve regulations as well as implementing workplace trainings such as unconscious bias training.
“The task force’s goal [at McConnell] is to get to the point where these controversial conversations are no longer controversial,” said Staff Sgt. Braxton Ramsue, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron cargo and deployment training supervisor. “We want people to feel comfortable enough in their workplace to talk about [differences].”
Air Force leadership is continuing to remove barriers and practices that may have a negative or unfair effect on underrepresented Airmen. This includes new changes to regulations for hair, shaving waivers and scholarship opportunities.
“These teams want to make sure Airmen feel that their voice is heard,” said Ramsue. “We have leadership from the top-down that are working to make changes, and it is amazing to be a part of.”
For more information about the diversity and inclusion task force or information regarding training opportunities, please reach out to the Integrated Resiliency office at (316) 759 – 6557.
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