Rear Adm. Brendan McLane, commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic, opened up the event with his expectations and goals for the attendees.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this event,” said Command Master Chief Samira McBride, command master chief of Afloat Training Group Norfolk. “I’ve been given a platform to be on a panel to share experiences and have this conversation. I leave this symposium with a renewed conviction and outlook to do better myself.”
The symposium’s first day saw naval leaders discuss new policies and lessons learned from around the Navy. For most of the day, panels representing different groups of Sailors or minorities discussed barriers they faced during their service. Many panels allowed open questions and answers, further enabling DEI dialogue. Keynote speaker Rear Adm. (ret.) Jesse Wilson emphasized the importance of each pillar of DEI.
“When you institutionalize equity and inclusion in your force, diversity will follow naturally,” Wilson said. “Equity plus inclusion equals diversity. This event should not be a one-and-done. We need to institutionalize how we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion and how we get everyone on board with these basic leadership principles. These will lead to a stronger and more cohesive fighting force, one needed for the current power competition.
In closing, McLane charged everyone in attendance to turn the proposals discussed at the symposium into action.
The CNSF DEI Symposium was established as a direct response to Adm. Gilday’s call to “identify and remove racial barriers, improve inclusion efforts, create new opportunities for professional development, and eliminate obstacles.”