F-16 Harmony Council has successful 1st year Published Feb. 20, 2022 By Cynthia Griggs 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Now approaching its one-year anniversary, the F-16 System Program Office’s Harmony Council recently won the 2021 Air Force Diversity and Inclusion Innovation Team Award at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center level. Focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility issues, the council stood up Feb. 25, 2021, following the summer 2020 murder of George Floyd, the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s “What Am I Thinking” video, and the office’s response to the Racial Prejudice in the Workplace survey. Col. Timothy Bailey, F-16 System Program Manager, said he was motivated by a desire to increase awareness of the benefits of DEIA across his team and asked Vinson Lewis, Deputy Program Manager for Nuclear Matters, to organize and lead a council made up of diverse team members across the organization. Lewis subsequently selected Rosmarie Edwards, F-16 Avionics Engineer, to co-lead the council. “Mr. Lewis, Ms. Edwards, and the rest of the volunteers have needed very little from me to be effective and successful. I appreciate their passion and enjoy supporting them,” Bailey said. “We need a diversity of perspectives to solve our toughest problems. I see the Harmony Council as one way of fostering that in my organization.” During the planning stage, Lewis said the team chose “Harmony” for the council’s name because it speaks to the beautiful sound created by the diversity of singing roles in four-part harmony. “This concept alludes to the positive, complementary impact diverse Airmen play in weapons systems creation, implementation, and other endeavors inherent in the defense acquisition process,” he said. The council’s mission is to develop an F-16 community that values the benefits and strengths of diversity and reflects the nation we serve, and the team established four initiatives during their first year to fulfill its mission. They released a quarterly newsletter called “Harmony Matters,” a quarterly video series, a semi-annual speaker series and conducted a women’s focus group. “By espousing and actively promoting the strengths and benefits of DEIA, diversity councils help break down barriers like unconscious bias that adversely affect teamwork, creativity, and recruiting,” said Lewis. “Establishing organizations that reflect the nation we serve improves recruiting because diverse candidates are more inclined to work at organizations that are diverse.” Because of the many initiatives the team has brought forth, and winning the award, AFLCMC Public Affairs recently invited Bailey, Lewis and Edwards to participate in an upcoming episode of their Leadership Log video podcast. This year, the council is planning on adding person-on-the-street video vignettes and an essay series called “True Confessions,” where individuals will write about instances in their lives when they experienced or demonstrated inappropriate behavior that, upon subsequent training or future interactions, resulted in a learning experience. The video vignettes will involve individuals recording a short cellphone video of themselves answering questions such as: What does diversity mean to you? What DEIA situations have you experienced/seen that you feel have impeded inclusiveness? “The council feels that these two initiatives will allow the F-16 team to dig deep and open up about their various experiences, how those experiences were the result of certain beliefs and values and, most importantly, realize how those beliefs, when augmented by proactive learning can result in ‘a stronger, faster and more lethal F-16 group through diversity and inclusion’,” said Lewis. “My advice for leaders of other organizations interested in increasing DEIA awareness is simple,” said Bailey. “Establish a regular rhythm where you listen to the smaller populations in your workforce and work to get out of the ‘echo chamber’ that can be present in the majority populations of your workforce.” The F-16 Harmony Council is comprised of a diverse group of fifteen geographically-separated volunteers – seven of whom are located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and eight of whom are located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The team is always looking for additional members who are committed to the values of DEIA, and is especially in need of active duty members. They hope to eventually open the council to members outside the F-16 community. For more information about the council and its efforts, contact Lewis at email@example.com for Hill AFB or Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org for Wright-Patterson AFB.