EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Pacific Air Forces Chief Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Officer, Tony Cruz, visited Eielson Air Force Base and met with base leadership and Airmen May 30-31, 2023.
Earlier this year, Eielson stood up its own Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility program. The program promotes a culture of diversity and inclusion while educating and training leaders on DEIA concerns.
Cruz held a Leading Inclusive Virtual Experience event with some of Eielson’s front line supervisors. L.I.V.E. is a DEIA education tool developed by Air University to help develop skills such as addressing exclusion and understanding different perspectives through suspended reality in a simulated scenario.
“An individual gets to engage with an avatar but behind the avatar there is a learning specialist which is a real person that will interact with you over scripts and scenarios that have been written based on real experiences in the Air Force,” explained Cruz. “Once they’re done, we start unpacking the event with the individual, and people start sharing their own perspectives and opinions.”
Conducting a L.I.V.E. event with a participant and an audience in the room allows for a conversation to take place based on people’s experiences and provides a learning opportunity for all involved.
Cruz also delivered Conceptual Clarity briefs to Airmen and civilians across the installation. Cruz used the briefs to emphasize that diversity and inclusion are not one thing, but two distinct things that are often confused.
“Diversity is everything that makes us look at things from a different perspective and gives us a different lens,” Cruz said. “Inclusion is the environment we create that fosters a culture where every Airman feels like their voice matters.”
Cruz also spoke on DEIA’s business case, and prompted dialogue between himself and the audience. Participants shared what they thought DEIA could deliver, which included cohesiveness, innovation, connectedness, and a place of belonging. Airmen also shared that they believed solutions to complex problems could flow quickly and freely in an inclusive environment.
Cruz has delivered Conceptual Clarity briefs at every PACAF installation because they provide a better understanding of what the DEIA program is all about. They also create a clear and strong foundation to build upon. Cruz encouraged Eielson’s full-time DEIA program manager, Master Sgt. Marlon Woodson, to continue delivering Conceptual Clarity briefs at Eielson to continue solidifying the program’s foundation.
“Until we have a shared understanding of what diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility is, we can't continue to build upon it,” said Cruz. “We need to increase the awareness of it which is critical to making sure that we’re maximizing and making use of all the capabilities we have in our Air Force.”