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Diversity and equity chief focuses on inclusion

bio photo Keith Tickle

Keith Tickle is the Air Force Materiel Command Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

The Air Force Materiel Command was ahead of the game when they appointed Keith Tickle as the organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer last spring. The Air Force Office of Diversity and Inclusion was established in December of 2020, and offices are now being stood up across the Air Force major commands.

Tickle’s job, and that of others in his role, is to ensure Airmen, both military and civilian, have unfettered access to all opportunities in order to maximize the potential of their skills, talents and expertise. Finding and honing each individual’s diverse proficiencies aims to enhance mission effectiveness.

“One of our major goals is to pursue a comprehensive and systematic approach to advancing equity for all and removing barriers to equal opportunity,” said Tickle.

Before assuming his current position, Tickle headed the AFMC Equal Opportunity Office where the charge was to investigate incidences of exclusion. By contrast, the DEI focus is to stave off exclusionary policies and practices before they even happen.

This inclusionary approach ensures Airmen feel like they a part of the team, are treated fairly and have equal opportunities and resources regardless of race, age, disability, status, gender or background. Tickle feels his experience investigating exclusion is an asset in working toward inclusion – an effort that is never-ending.

“It is important to know that in DEI efforts, there is no finish line where we get to sit back and be complacent. I say that success is best measured in simply being active,” said Tickle.

And active they are. Since the office has just one employee in addition to him, Tickle collaborates heavily with other base offices to collect data and identify any barriers or behaviors that might exist which could hinder individuals’ employment objectives. The goal is to make diversity and inclusion a part of the culture by finding ways to incorporate it into programs, processes, policies and training throughout the entire employee lifecycle.

Tickle and his team also developed an AFMC DEI Continuum as a tool to assess the current command culture. The continuum aims to help AFMC Airmen and leaders to target actions that increase self-awareness and combat complacency in the diversity realm.

The continuum focuses on two viewpoints: the organization and the individual perspective.

“Both are necessary,” said Tickle, “to create an inclusive culture and build the highest-performing teams.”

Some of the initiatives they are undertaking to encourage self-awareness and healthy values and behaviors include:

  • Identifying systemic problems that may hinder diversity and recommending solutions
  • Reviewing demographic data to detect possible barriers
  • Developing and implementing DEI training policies and surveys
  • Conducting supervisor training courses about diversity and inclusion
  • Providing informational material
  • Hosting or facilitating sensing sessions to determine current culture
  • Removing obstacles to collaboration

“The playing field is still not level, but we are working to achieve, not equality of outcome, but quality of opportunity,” said Tickle.

For more information on how to attend training or participate in the DEI process, contact Keith Tickle at Keith.Tickle.1@us.af.mil. To learn more about AFMC diversity efforts, visit https://www.afmc.af.mil/About-Us/Featured-Topics/Diversity/.