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Leveraging Diversity Of Thought Through Inclusion: Advantages, Disadvantages, And Taking Advantage

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Technical Report

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Air Command And Staff College Maxwell AFB United States

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An Air Force Squadron Officer College instructor once informed her class, My squadron commander wanted me in his organization purely for diversity reasons. The faces of her students ranged from shocked to uncomfortable, given that an African American female just informed them that she was in the squadron as an instrument of diversity. It was not until she concluded with the following statement that her students found relief and amusement And what better way for an Alabama Crimson Tide fan to get diversity of thought in his organization than to include an Auburn Tigers fan This example, however humorous, highlights the prevalent perception of what diversity means for many in the Air Force. While the Air Force seeks to attain diversity of thought, many of its policies focus on demographic diversity without providing a clear picture of how it relates to cognitive diversity. Perhaps more important is the Air Forces ability to leverage diversity through inclusion. To achieve an environment that successfully balances and leverages cognitive diversity through inclusion, the Air Force must establish dedicated resources to explore and develop cognitive-centric programs and measures, create tools to assess inclusiveness, and educate leaders on managing diverse environments. This paper begins with definitions for diversity and inclusion and discusses how demographic diversity and cognitive diversity are related. Next, it discusses the advantages and disadvantages of diversity and the importance of seeking balance in order to maximize inclusiveness. Then, it examines whether or not current Air Force policy supports leveraging cognitive diversity and how the Air Force currently measures and assesses diversity and inclusion. Finally, it provides recommendations for improving policy to refocus Air Force diversity efforts, developing inclusion assessment tools for leadership at all levels, and educating leaders on effectively managing a diverse environment and cultivatin


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