An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

19 AW facilitates unconscious bias training

  • Published
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- In the midst of heightened tensions around the prevalence of racial bias in the United States, the 19th Airlift Wing swiftly facilitated an open dialog with command teams led by Risha Grant, an internationally renowned diversity, inclusion and bias expert, June 3.

Earlier this week, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein called for a service-wide conversation on the spectrum of racial prejudice, systemic discrimination and unconscious bias that effects Airmen across our Nation.

“It is time for every one of us to strive for understanding and a culture of inclusiveness and belonging across our Air Force,” Goldfein said.

Race remains one of the most difficult topics to discuss in the workplace. The seminar on unconscious biases was held to allow the opportunity for leadership teams to have candid, respectful dialogue with colleagues on the crucial topic in an effort to better foster a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Several leaders that participated said that “the price of inclusion is cheaper than exclusion,” was one of the key takeaways they received from Grant.

“When we include people they trust us and are a part of the team,” said Senior Master Sgt. Wednesday Wilhite, 19th AW Equal Opportunity Office superintendent. “When we exclude people you get mistrust, low morale, poor communication and the team does not flow together … so inclusion is cheaper than exclusion and that’s the biggest thing I took away today.” 

Grant also spoke about the “platinum rule.”

“I grew up understanding and truly believing in the ‘golden rule’ — treat others as you want to be treated — this was the first time I had heard of the ‘platinum rule,’” said Lt. Col. Darris Johnson 19th Communications Squadron commander. “The ‘platinum rule’ states to treat someone the way that they would want to be treated, not the way you would want to be treated.”

Johnson also stated that the guided discussions with Grant allowed him to refocus his viewpoint.

“This session gave us the tools to look at things from a total human race perspective. It planted a seed to look at things from a different perspective and angle than we see traditionally from where we sit in life and where we sit in the room,” Johnson said.

Throughout the session, Grant spoke on the importance of listening.

“My biggest takeaway I will pass down to all my leaders from top to bottom is don’t listen to respond, listen to understand,” said Col. Derrick Floyd 19th Mission Support Group commander.

In the days to follow, command teams will take their lessons learned to further engage with supervisors at all levels to have similar vital conversations.

Senior leaders from the 19th AW said they remain fully committed to having this conversation within the wing, and will continue to take action to address issues and ensure every Airmen knows they are a valued, protected and important member of the team.

“My hope is that we use these nation-wide protests as the genesis for further conversations at all levels about the importance of setting an environment in which all Airmen feel connected and valued, regardless of their race, gender, creed or sexual orientation,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th AW commander.