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Diversity key to ANG success

Col. Shirley S. Raguindin addresses wing commanders on the importance of diversity at the 2014 Executive Safety Summit, held at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., May 13-14, 2014. This year's theme: "Leaders: Don't Let Your Guard Down," covers a wide range of topics including safety, resilience,diversity and mishap prevention. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John E. Hillier/Released)

Col. Shirley S. Raguindin addresses wing commanders on the importance of diversity at the 2014 Executive Safety Summit, held at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis., May 13-14, 2014. This year's theme: "Leaders: Don't Let Your Guard Down," covers a wide range of topics including safety, resilience,diversity and mishap prevention. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman John E. Hillier/Released)

Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis. -- Diversity is one of the Air Force's top priorities and a focus area at the 2014 Executive Safety Summit, held here May 13 and 14, where leaders were charged with using their Air National Guardsmen's diverse skills and experience to increase readiness and mission success.

The Air Force defines diversity as a composite of individual characteristics, experiences and abilities consistent with the Air Force Core Values and Air Force mission.

"People are the backbone of what we do, and we can't forget that," said Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, director of the Air National Guard. "How people think about themselves, how they think about their organizations and each other is a very big part of how we operate."

Col. Shirley S. Raguindin, chief diversity officer for the Air National Guard, discussed the positive results gained from an organization's commitment to diversity.

"Wing commanders have so many challenges in today's environment," said Raguindin. "When they utilize diversity as a leadership strategy, they will see improved mission operations and readiness. They will also provide transparency to their organization, so that they will make better decisions."

Raguindin emphasized that diversity is far more than simple demographics. It includes disparate characteristics such as problem-solving styles, language abilities, education, and many others.

"The importance of diversity doesn't lie in skin color or gender," said Raguindin. "It's in the diversity of experiences and diversity of thought that a broad group of people like the members of the Air National Guard bring to the table. What we're training is how to allow our folks to learn how to work in such diverse teams in such a short time. This helps to allow people to learn how to work better together and more efficiently to get the mission done."

Having a diverse and inclusive organization can bolster the effectiveness of other programs as well.

"Diversity and inclusion can help to strengthen the resiliency of your organization," said Raguindin. "This is not the only solution, but it is one way to be able to address sexual assault prevention and suicide prevention. We've had chiefs thank us for our training and tell us it directly saved lives."
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