DAF drives forward with groundbreaking DEIA training event

  • Published
  • By Capt. Shane Ellis
  • Secretary of the Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The Department of the Air Force led its inaugural DAF Strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Certification training event Sept. 21–22 at the University of Virginia Darden Center in Arlington.

The purpose of the training was to develop and increase knowledge of the strategic importance of a diverse workforce, inclusive leadership and the understanding of enhancing organizational cultures of trust to drive the innovation, agility and complex decision-making needed to meet the challenges in a contested global environment.

The Secretary of the Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Office partnered with the Human Capital Institute to pilot the DAF SDEI certification, which is professional credentialing recognized by the Society of Human Resource Management.

The event boasted a commendable attendance of 52 participants, not just from DAF but also from the broader Department of Defense community; furthermore, the event showcased the DAF's forward-looking approach transitions from merely understanding foundational DEIA concepts such as inclusion, culture and bias to understanding the strategic importance of a diverse workforce, the importance of inclusive leadership, and the understanding of the importance of enhancing organizational cultures of trust.

According to Cheri Atkins, SAF/DI Education and Training division chief, the goal was to dissect DEIA as a "Readiness Problem with a People Solution," emphasizing both workforce development and talent management.

"DEIA is not just an abstract concept or a box to be checked,” she said. “It's an essential pillar for both workforce development and talent management. This emphasis on the human element aligns perfectly with the ethos of the HCI, a renowned entity in the human capital realm, whose collaboration with the Department of Defense has been transformative for human resource professionals.”

Atkins went on to say that the collaboration with HCI, renowned in the human capital domain and having affiliations with SHRM, helped assure the quality of the event; furthermore, HCI has a longstanding relationship with the DoD and has been pivotal in enhancing the strategic skills of human resource professionals.

Marianne Malizia, SAF/DI director, expressed her enthusiasm for the training event.

"This training event wasn’t just about equipping individuals with knowledge,” she said. “It was about seeding connections, encouraging conversations and forming networks that can thrust the entire DoD forward. We're laying down a foundation, and the opportunities brought forth by this training will undeniably prepare us for a more inclusive and efficient future, one that prepares us to have a strategic advantage to be ready for the great power competition today, and in the future."

Atkins extended gratitude to everyone who helped make the event possible and said their inputs were invaluable in shaping the delivery of SHRM-approved content, blending theoretical knowledge with hands-on facilitation and practical exercises suited for the DoD and DAF landscapes.