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Senior leaders speak out on diversity, equal opportunity

WASHINGTON -- Officials in the Air Force Equal Opportunity Office and the Strategic Diversity Integration Office joined forces to produce a video that demonstrates the commitment of senior Air Force leaders to diversity and equal opportunity programs.

In the video titled "Diversity and Equal Opportunity in Our Air Force," Air Force senior leaders voice their perspectives on diversity and equal opportunity, citing the strength of the service: people.

"This video proclaims the value of the unique qualities of each individual in the total Air Force," said Mrs. Rose Gault, deputy assistant secretary for the Strategic Diversity Integration Office and video co-author. "We must continue to foster an environment where every individual's contribution is valued and respected."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz discussed his commitment to diversity and noted the importance of all individuals to mission readiness and warfighting capabilities.

"No one's value to the mission is measured by their proximity to the fight," General Schwartz said. "Diversity provides our force with an aggregation of strengths, perspectives and capabilities that transcend individual contributions."

Diversity is defined as mission-oriented: exploiting the uniqueness of each Airman to enhance organizational effectiveness and readiness. Equal opportunity is defined as compliance-oriented: ensuring Airmen are treated fairly and work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination.

Brig. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins Jr., deputy director of policy and resources, office of warfighting integration, and chief information officer, said diversity inspired him early in and throughout his career.

"I wouldn't be where I am had I not seen another African American general officer back when I was a second lieutenant, and in so doing I said, 'Hey, there is room and value for me,'" General Hawkins recalled. "My father is a retired chief master sergeant, so I already knew the Air Force had a solid equal opportunity program. I've known since I joined in 1978."

Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, said the service takes a "total force" approach in leveraging the spectrum of talent and perspectives of its members.

Diversity allows everyone -- active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilians -- to reach his or her potential and provide their capabilities to the Air Force and to the joint team, General Newton said.

Kimberly Litherland, director of the Air Force equal opportunity officeand video co-author, said she is extremely proud of this tangible product which demonstrates the importance of the application of diversity and equal opportunity principles to an organization's accomplishments.

"The Air Force embraces equal opportunity and diversity, which yields phenomenal results, a great, effective team who delivers anytime, anywhere," Ms. Litherland said. 

Click here to view the video and hear various testimonials from senior leaders including the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and the service's top cop.