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Diversity Outreach In U.S. Navy Recruiting
by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Langford - February 2, 2014

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U.S. Navy SealMILLINGTON, Tenn. - The Navy prides itself on being a top diversity employer, and in the past several years, has increased its efforts to improve diversity outreach, awareness, and recruiting.

Diversity allows for a stronger, talented work force, and outreach in recruiting increases the number of individuals with whom recruiters may connect to discuss Navy opportunities.

According to Ty Fitzgerald, PRISM Media Relations, the Navy Strategic Diversity Working Group earned the Association of Diversity Council's number one ranking in 2013 amongst notable competitors such as American Airlines, which ranked number two; Boeing, number five; General Motors, number nine; and FedEx Freight, 20.

There are approximately 323,000 sailors in today's Navy. They serve around the world, each having been trained in their area of expertise. Many speak several languages. Many have higher education or civilian work experiences that contribute to the talent that makes our Navy the best in the world.

Today's Sailors join from all walks of life, education, and cultural backgrounds. They bring new thoughts and ideas, working together to create a kind of synergism, said Capt. Horatio Fernandez, Navy Recruiting Command's diversity director.

In order to create such a diverse Navy, it takes a team of highly trained and motivated Sailors and recruiters whose job is to find the next generation of leaders. As competition becomes more keen to fill positions in the fleet, it is important for recruiters to tap into all available communities and resources to find qualified men and women to join the Navy's elite team of professionals.

Being a Sailor is no regular job, and recruiting Future Sailors is no regular task. Recruiters face a variety of challenges and barriers that societal and cultural norms have established. It can be difficult to recruit in diverse communities.

“Many diverse families struggle to accept a decision to join the Navy,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Cesar Serna, recruiter for Navy Recruiting District Jacksonville. “Reaching out to communities and helping them understand the mutual benefit to joining [the Navy] is where you have to start. It's not all give, give.”

Awareness is one of the biggest barriers to diversity recruiting. Many individuals and families think of military service simply as boots on the ground warfighting. While this is an important part of military service, the majority of Navy careers offer much more technical training and experience, said Serna.

The Navy's diversity outreach program helps increase awareness within communities that can develop over generations. Outreach encompasses much more than just reaching those who may be recruiting eligible. Outreach is a necessity to plant the seed years before so there is awareness of our Navy and its mission, the benefits of service and learning a skill. Reaching younger audiences early helps establish a better understanding of the Navy which can then grow into a positive image in that community over time.

“Diversity outreach helps generations of recruiters when outreach officers are allowed and encouraged to open doors within the local communities,” said Navy Counselor Chief William J. Riley, a Navy city outreach officer for the southeast region. “It creates personal and professional connections with key groups and figureheads who will help advance the Navy's recruiting mission.”

Navy Recruiting Command invests in outreach because it ultimately supports the recruiting mission. Building and maintaining relationships with key influencers across America takes time and diversity outreach supports the longer-term view.

To support the Navy's recruiting mission, five diversity officers and an assistant are assigned to key cities across the United States; from east to west outreach officers are located in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles.

Outreach officers build and maintain relationships with key diversity organizations. They coordinate events and visits to local communities in order to create a Navy presence. One of the key efforts they manage includes using tools like SeaPerch and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) displays.

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting, according to the SeaPerch website and the Office of Naval Research.

San Diego middle school students present their robotic submarine during the SeaPerch Fun Challenge at the16th International RoboSub Competition at the U.S. Navy's research pool on Naval Base Point Loma on July 26, 2013. The Seaperch Fun Challenge is an underwater robotics program for middle and high school students to explore and apply engineering and science concepts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jasmine Sheard)
San Diego middle school students present their robotic submarine during the SeaPerch Fun Challenge at the16th International RoboSub Competition at the U.S. Navy's research pool on Naval Base Point Loma on July 26, 2013. The Seaperch Fun Challenge is an underwater robotics program for middle and high school students to explore and apply engineering and science concepts. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jasmine Sheard)


More information on SeaPerch can be found at http://www.seaperch.org/index.

The emphasis on core STEM subjects allows students and communities to see the skills and benefits that service in the Navy has to offer while at the same time, offering the opportunity for the Navy to learn from local communities how to help with future recruiting efforts.

”Our diversity outreach gives us unique views into a number of different local populations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael M. Kerley, the Navy's city outreach officer for the Midwest, located in Chicago. “As recruiters come and go into the recruiting force, sometimes they don't know or understand these differences. We [diversity outreach] can lend our time and experience to help them fulfill their ultimate goal of being culturally educated, and a successful recruiter.”

In many ways, Navy diversity outreach is a lot like college football outreach. Colleges frequently send their coaches and players out to local public schools as a way to get their name out there for kids at a young age. This type of outreach shows the benefits of hard work and a college education, while at the same time planting a seed for children who in five to 10 years' time, will remember the experience when it is time to apply to colleges.

Navy recruiters are the coaches and team players for diversity outreach. It is important for them to understand the need for their help in outreach events. Outreach ensures the success of the recruiting mission in the future.

“The long term benefit of our program is the increased possibility of bringing Americans with various backgrounds and life experiences into naval service,” said Kerley. “Our outreach efforts and local interactions may be what makes a person consider serving in the U.S. Navy.”

By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Langford
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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