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News | April 1, 2024

Vice director: Data analysis can help EEO team foster healthy agency culture

By Beth Reece

Employees’ ability to understand data and use it to create solutions will help the Defense Logistics Agency meet new demands, whether in logistics operations or ensuring equality in the workplace, DLA’s vice director told equal employment opportunity leaders March 27 during a two-day training summit.

“It’s about getting a better understanding of what’s going on in our offices, everything from the demographics of the workforce to trends that we’re seeing over time,” Brad Bunn said. “What can we glean from that data in relation to our complaints process or just the EEO community in general?”

Data acumen is among several focus areas as new DLA Director Army Lt. Gen. Mark Simerly builds his strategic plan for the agency. Bunn said that in the EEO realm that might include studying employee demographics to determine areas where the team can proactively mitigate future issues. For example, the age of participants in DLA's Pathways to Career Excellence Program has dropped. Past participants were typically in their mid-30s and starting second or post-military careers, but most new participants are recent college graduates. Some may have also spent the past three years in a virtual environment with minimal face-to-face interaction. 

A group of men and women stand near a railing indoors
Equal employment opportunity leaders pose for a group photo with Defense Logistics Agency Vice Director Brad Bunn March 27, 2024, at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Photo By: DoD Photo by Chris Lynch
VIRIN: 240327-D-HE260-1039
“Looking at that data, think about how it translates to workplace behavior or understanding things that might drive issues in EEO’s portfolio. Generational differences might drive some different approaches and strategies as well,” Bunn said.

DLA’s Culture and Climate Survey also yields crucial data for EEO professionals. In addition to measuring employees’ views on topics like reasonable accommodations and whether supervisors treat team members fairly, the survey assesses whether employees think DLA values diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, or DEIA. Though 78% of respondents gave DLA favorable marks on DEIA, Bunn zeroed in on the 16% with a neutral response.

“That means they neither agreed nor disagreed. I interpret that as people not knowing enough about what we’re doing in DEIA to have an opinion. That represents an opportunity,” he said.

The same is true, he added, regarding whether DLA fosters a supportive environment for people with disabilities, for which 13% of respondents were neutral.

Bunn also described a four-pronged framework the agency is undertaking to transform warfighter support. It includes people, precision, posture and partnerships. The “people” element involves setting a healthy culture and ensuring employees have the skills needed to address challenges like contested logistics.

“Precision” refers to the understanding of data and awareness of customers’ environments and needs. “Posture” is having people and inventory in the right locations, plus the ability to seamlessly shift both when necessary.

“The ‘partnerships’ piece is really about the relationships that we builds with our customers, with industry, among ourselves as an organization, and with allies and partners,” the vice director said.

He added that trust, discipline and commitment among DLA's employees have helped the agency earn its reputation as a reliable provider for the Defense Department and other federal agencies, but complacency can diminish that advantage.

“It’s about responsibility and accountability and making sure that we invest in our workforce,” Bunn said. “We also hold people accountable to outcomes.”

He called DLA’s EEO team unsung heroes in maintaining compliance with laws and policies that govern employee treatment. It’s a tough job that includes handling complaints with professionalism and care, and working to change negative societal attitudes that trickle into the workplace, he said.

Addressing DLA’s switch to a more onsite presence since January, Bunn noted that the increased flow of reasonable accommodation requests continues. He thanked the team for treating employees with dignity and respect under the law while meeting the spirit and intent of DLA’s policy.

Bunn also encouraged the staff to think institutionally, strategically and long-term about what it can do to help the workforce support DLA’s mission.

“The stronger our workforce is, the stronger our support is to the men and women in uniform who rely on us every day,” he said.

The summit included sessions on leveraging best practices in the Workforce Recruitment Program, discrimination case studies, standardized complaint forms and more.