News | April 18, 2017

Troop Support hosts World Café as gateway to diversity, inclusion

By Agneta Murnan DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

Twenty employees gathered April 12 for three rounds of dialogue on diversity, trust and how to navigate difficult communications during a World Café event in the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Building 6 auditorium.

The organization’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity office hosted this discussion-stimulating event to test an approach to strengthening diversity and inclusion.

“I see it as a way to address workforce issues,” said EEOD Director Ruben Filomeno. “It could be culture, human capital issues or work process issues.”

The trademarked World Café methodology outlined on its website involves gathering participants in a café-like environment for a welcome and introduction, followed by three rounds of small group discussions lasting approximately 20 minutes each.

The discussions are focused on specific, pre-formulated questions designed to provoke conversation. At the conclusion of each round, participants are invited to share insights or results from the dialogue with the larger group. The participants are scrambled and reseated at different tables for each subsequent round.

“I’ve never seen anything in my entire educational career that works this well [as the World Café],” said John Fuller, the chief employee engagement educator at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the event-facilitator. Fuller is a 22-year military veteran who holds a doctorate of education and three master’s degrees in business ethics, community leadership and education.

“I thought it was very interesting. I liked how it was really engaging and got everybody to interact with each other. The issues touched on were very relevant to today,” said Octavia Millwood, Equal Employment Opportunity specialist, emphasizing the discussions on the difficulty of navigating the news media environment.

 

“I appreciated the opportunity to dialogue with fellow co-workers regarding some difficult and often off-limit topics in our governmental work environment,” said Customer Operations customer liaison specialist Beatrice E. Ross, a World Café participant. “Diversity and inclusion are topics that we face every day in the workplace and in our communities.”

 

“It is more important to shatter stereotypes than to further the divide,” Ross continued. “I hope we keep talking until we discover our commonalities and not just focus on our differences.”

 

“If we can have more conversations … and we make the questions a little tough … I think we’ll have a better organization, and that’s our goal,” explained Filomeno at the end of the World Café event. He encouraged participants to provide feedback for future program development.