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Welcome to We Are NOAA Week 2021

July 28, 2021


DaNa CarlisWelcome to We Are NOAA Week at GSL! This week we celebrate progress we have made at achieving real results in advancing diversity, equity, inclusiveness, and accessibility (DEIA) within our own workforce and with our partners. I’m writing this blog to share some of my thoughts after approximately 10 months on the job as Deputy Director. Before getting started, I must say that I hope you all are taking some time this week to attend the two-day virtual summit (July 28-29) called “Turning the Tide” and you can register here. You can also listen to The 20% Podcast episode that includes some stories about my background and my journey.

As one of the newbies at GSL, I’ve seen a strong commitment at all levels of the organization devoted to the practice of DEIA in the workplace. Your willingness to contribute to increasing transparency across our organization is displayed by attending our GSL weekly briefing, attending the annual retreat, providing input for our strategic planning, participating in GSL surveys, and by continuing to support student internship opportunities. These are only a few of the very important and concrete examples of practicing DEIA within GSL. At the leadership level, I’ve seen our leadership team discuss awards and recognitions for staff on a weekly basis and that type of repetitiveness is what we all need to see within our work units with regards to DEIA in order to make it part of our organizational culture and the norm.

The heart of GSL abounds with inclusion as a key value of the organization. Our ability to continually create space for collaboration and feedback is what contributes to making GSL the best laboratory in NOAA. I may be biased but I honestly do believe this. In fact, I feel uniquely qualified to recognize this quality because of the many institutions that I’ve had the opportunity to work at and the venues I’ve visited within NOAA. Our organization is very impressive as you all will see from the results of our lab review and we should all be proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s important that we continue to take steps at improving inclusivity within GSL because those are the types of organizations that talented scientists want to work for. I’ve read the analogy that states diversity is being invited to the party, and inclusion means being asked to dance, but belonging is being asked for input into the playlist for the dance music and feeling free to ask anyone you want to dance with you.

So why is it important to improve in these areas of DEIA and why should we care? Well, I believe it’s a business imperative for GSL to prioritize DEIA so that we attract the best and brightest minds from all backgrounds of society. I was reading an article that showed Colorado’s demographics in 2050 to be 46% minority compared to 31% today. This type of change will require GSL to be strategically aligned with our workforce that in all likelihood will be more diverse due to the changing demographics locally and nationally. If we all desire for GSL to be a thriving research organization that meets the needs of the nation with our science and innovative tools and services, we must continue to prepare ourselves for a 21st century nation that works and thinks differently from our current workforce. One way to approach these changes is by taking on a growth and development mindset. What I mean by this is that we should embrace the next generation of scientists by inviting them to be part of research and transition projects that we’re conducting. Being a mentor is one of the greatest gifts that you can give a young scientist and we could be doing more in this area if we had more people trained and willing to spend time with students.

In closing, I’d like to say thank you for the warm welcome to CO and GSL. Your emails and calls have made the transition from DC to CO much more manageable for me and my family. If you’ve wondered why I decided to move to CO, just know that it’s the people of GSL that attracted me here and it’s been a fantastic 10 months. Lastly, I would encourage you all to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and be willing to have difficult conversations. Our ability to meet our mission and improve our organization depends on it. -- GSL Deputy Director DaNa Carlis