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Crucial Conversation: How Robins leaders encourage diversity and inclusion

Robins employees must complete a number of training exercises and discussions promoting diversity in the workplace and how to appreciate differences.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Crucial conversations are happening all around the country, the Central Georgia community, and behind the gates of Robins Air Force Base.

Lee Floyd is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Air Force Reserve Command. He says the base and Air Force leaders have been promoting diversity training for many years.

"We've been doing cross-cultural awareness training, diversity training, sensitivity awareness training. We've been doing that for quite some time, but over the past four years, the Air Force Reserve, we upped the game," Floyd said.

He says they've made sure they have certain diversity measures in place.

"We mandated, number one, that we have diversity program managers at each and every one of our wings." Floyd said, "number two, we've mandated that each and every citizen airman that is a military member, a civilian member, and our contractors undergo this diversity and inclusion training as well."

The training exercises have been successful, according to Floyd, because they are driven by discussions between employees instead of lectures.

"We've seen an increase in these crucial conversations, these tough discussions. We can walk down the hall and we can hear people talking of different races and different backgrounds talking about those things that are important to them. They are sharing their experiences, and the good thing about it is that folks are listening. We're hearing each other," Floyd said.

Installation Resilience Program Manager at Robins MSgt Kristal Lane says the base also has unique programs aimed at getting employees to both talk and listen to each other.

"Our 'Sensing Sessions' is a safe environment where civilian and military members can be part of small groups and voice their concerns, be vulnerable, and express those unfiltered emotions. It's an opportunity for all of us to sit down with each other and really just listen," she says.

Floyd says working on base provides a unique dynamic for workers of all different backgrounds and gives them a common goal.

"We are in the business of war, protecting the nation, and you couple that with the fact that not only are we military members, but we're also humans. So to have to deal with the world affairs, to have to deal with the perceptions and the ideas of racism, discrimination, and unfairness and unfair treatment, that affects each and every one of us every day. However, we are committed to the protections of this great country. We volunteer to do what we do, and every day we're going to come to the gate, come through the gate with our heads up and we're going to continue to do that," he says.

He encourages others in the community to learn from what Robins and the Air Force are doing to help employees and apply it to their own lives.

"We have figured out a way, I believe, to allow ourselves an opportunity to grow from learning about each other. I would say take the time to talk to someone you've never spoken to before, somebody that's completely different than you, and try to understand their points of view so that you can gain a deeper appreciation for those individuals as well," Floyd says.

Robins will also be holding what they call a "Proud Forum" on June 30. 

It will be a town hall led by 78th Air Base Wing Commander Colonel Brian Moore to talk about diversity and inclusion. 

Base employees can watch or chime in from the base theater, or on the Robins Facebook page.

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Crucial Conversation: Women's Interfaith Alliance of Central Georgia plans a conversation of their own

Crucial Conversations: Alex Habersham on supporting local black-owned businesses

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