Excel as a High-Performing Agency

March is Women’s History Month

WAThis is WHo We Are - booklet coverSHINTON, DC— It is often said that good things come when change occurs, and we can all be agents of change in the workplace. Yet while much has and will continue to change, our agency’s mission remains relevant. The recent release of the This Is Who We Are Pocketbook reminds us of who we are.  We are values-based, purpose-driven and relationship-focused. 

National Women’s History Month acknowledges the rich history of the vibrant women in our country. We also want to acknowledge our own rich history of vibrant women as part of the Forest Service. We come together to celebrate the contributions that women make in our world, both personally and professionally. It is also time to acknowledge the work that needs to be done to thoughtfully identify and eliminate barriers to inclusion for women at the Forest Service. 

Currently, the permanent workforce is 28.3 percent women compared to 34 percent in the civilian labor force. In order to have a gender-balanced workforce, and ensure women want to join and remain part of our great agency, we need to recognize that gender balance is not a women’s issue. Gender balance, regardless of how an individual identifies, takes a shared responsibility at home, at work and in our communities. Looking through the lens of inclusion can help us evolve, and identify positive, actionable steps our agency needs to take. And if we truly value diversity, we must listen and seek to understand each other. It is time to expose ourselves to ways of thinking that may not be our own and get comfortable talking about things like race, gender and cultural heritage at work in a safe and respectful way. Below are just a few efforts we’re taking to do just that:

International Women’s Day Podcast

Dani Ramirez-Montoya, National Federal Women’s program, and Lora Arciniega, NEPA  planner/project manager for the Carson National Forest in Taos, New Mexico, met to talk about gender balance, how work has become a centric part of the lives of many and how the type of work we do in certain Forest Service occupations sometimes pushes working parents out of the workforce. Click here to listen to the 30-minute podcast.

Virtual Focus Group Discussion

The Federal Women’s Special Emphasis Program Core Team hosted its second Virtual Focus Group discussion March 19. A brilliant panel of Forest Service employees kicked off the discussion, sharing how their experiences forged a path toward leadership in the Forest Service. For detailed information, visit the Federal Women's Special Emphasis Core Team SharePoint Site.

Book Discussion

Last month, the Black History Month article in Inside the Forest Service invited interested employees to read Becoming, an autobiographical memoir of former United States First Lady Michelle Obama. Join Dani Ramirez-Montoya as she kicks off a thoughtful, nonpartisan virtual discussion about various topics and themes from the memoir. This will be an opportunity to think deeply about Michelle Obama’s story, your story and, overall, to share thoughts on how we can apply lessons from the book to the workplace in order to connect different communities and create a workplace of inclusion. Participants will be exposed to ways of thinking that may not be their own. 

Visit the Outreach and Diversity SharePoint often as events and resources are always being updated.

All are encouraged to participate in or host events at regions, stations, areas or in their communities. The intent is to enhance awareness and celebrate the unique contributions of women. Please ensure any hosted events are fully accessible to all employees.

As we gear up for mid-year performance reviews let’s be mindful what we are doing to foster a work environment where all employees feel safe, valued and respected. Have you regularly promoted and used Special Emphasis Programs and/or actively pursued or implemented new ideas to improve the work environment and enhanced progress toward achieving workforce diversity?

  • For supervisors one performance standard is, “Creates an environment where people from diverse backgrounds feel respected, recognized, and valued; and actively fosters and maintains a work environment free of bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination consistent With all Federal civil rights laws and regulations, and Departmental and Forest Service regulations, directives, and guidance.”
  • For all employees one performance standard is, “Employees contribute meaningfully to an inclusive work environment where all employees feel safe, valued and respected. Employees take affirmative steps to promote diversity in all forms, including but not limited to culture, thought, race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, age, disability, religion, and sexual orientation, and ensure that all employees are accepted, valued, respected and are afforded a sense of belonging.”

We all share in the grand responsibility of creating a sense of belonging for our employees and a respectful environment for the public we serve. Together we are fully committed to creating a diverse and inclusive agency where more women will be encouraged to join us on our mission.