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DEI Office to take proactive, preventive, accountable approach to EEO matters

Wooden blocks with words DEI: diversity, equity, inclusion on orange background

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, has stood up a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office. The DEI Office serves as the accountability arm of a model Equal Employment Opportunity program that provides proactive, reactive, measurable and actionable efforts to eliminate inequity and prevent discrimination before it happens. (courtesy graphic)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, has recently changed its approach to addressing discrimination and inequality complaints within its workforce.

The Air Force Headquarters’ Manpower and Personnel Division approved the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion construct July 2, 2021.

Steven Goudeau, Robins DEI Office director, said the DEI structure was adopted by the Air Force Material Command after it evaluated its current Equal Employment Opportunity program status against the EEO Commission’s laws and model EEO program guidance, recognizing AFMC could improve upon previous accepted institutional norms.

“The command embraced Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s direction to ‘accelerate, change, or lose,’” he said. “Under (AFMC Commander) Gen. Arnold W. Bunch Jr.’s leadership, AFMC developed lines of effort that would transcend a reactive approach to addressing discrimination and inequality after it happened to a more proactive, preventive and accountable program that would make a difference, building on accessibility and inclusionary behaviors.” 

Goudeau said the DEI Office serves as the accountability arm of a model Equal Employment Opportunity program that provides proactive, reactive, measurable and actionable efforts to eliminate inequity and prevent discrimination before it happens.

“The overarching commitment is to promote an environment that encourages personnel to reach their full potential without barriers that hinder their ability to reach their highest potential, while focusing on inclusion and equity to enhance innovation and mission readiness,” he said.

As part of AFMC’s decision, Robins opened its DEI Office in early July.

The office will serve a variety of people, Goudeau said.

“The DEI Office will primarily serve Defense Department civilians and active-duty military,” he said. “There are times when the DEI Office will provide assistance to Reservists, Guardsmen and contractors. The level of support will ultimately depend on an individual’s status and the situation at the time of the event and type of support requested.”

Goudeau, who had previously served as Robins’ EEO director for the past six years, said AFMC is leading the Air Force in this structure and has already established this construct as an enduring approach to supporting the workforce and increase mission readiness.

Robins is one of seven bases within AFMC to stand-up a DEI office. The Robins DEI Office will provide a variety of services.

“DEI will synergize resources, such as the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Employment, Disability and the newly created Resource Advisory Office, and services that are currently being offered, while enhancing capabilities to remove barriers and inequality, Goudeau said.

“Specifically, the EEO will remain consistent with the type of support it currently provides, mostly known for its civilian and military equal opportunity complaint processing, Defense Equal Opportunity Climate Surveys, human relations and education training,” he said. “The Disability Office will continue to support managers and employees with reasonable accommodation requests, Schedule A, and Workforce Recruitment programs. The Affirmative Employment Office will manage EEO accountability elements, identifying barriers, eradicating inequity, and engaging recruiting efforts to support underrepresented communities and leading member employee resource groups, just to name a few.”

The Resource Advocacy Office will address attitudinal barriers like stereotypes and false assumptions, and eliminate harassment and harassment behaviors that may not reach the level of discrimination, Goudeau said.

“The office will also conduct a myriad of training efforts like unconscious bias, ethical drift, and other specialized training to assist organizations,” he said.

Goudeau said he envisions this structure being flexible with more proactive efforts to address institutional or attitudinal gaps, as well as identifying and removing barriers.

“DEI will support efforts to create transparency in processes and dispel rumors and misperceptions leading to increased trust and connectedness of our workforce, ultimately enhancing mission readiness through the razor-sharp focus of leaders and employees on mission accomplishment,” he said.

Goudeau said implementing inclusiveness into Robins’ work centers is good for the warfighting mission and good for the Airmen who serve.

“The Team Robins mission is massive and one that cannot be accomplished without the highly talented and innovative personnel who forge success in their respective missions every day,” he said. “The synergistic approach of DEI will further enhance mission readiness by promoting an environment that encourages personnel to reach their highest potential.”

For more information about the DEI Office, call (478) 926-2131.