Wright-Patterson puts its BEST foot forward Published Feb. 17, 2023 By Jaima Fogg 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Tyler Smith, 88th Security Forces Squadron, and Senior Airman Najee Harden, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard, have shaving waivers and are authorized to grow facial hair in accordance with Air Force Instruction 44-102. Inclusive male grooming standards are one of the lines of effort for the Black Employment Strategy Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jaima Fogg) Photo Details / Download Hi-Res WRIGHT-PATERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility are more than buzz words to the Black Employment Strategy Team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. DEIA is crucial to the readiness of the Department of the Air Force, and in order to drive greater diversity and inclusion, the Barrier Analysis Working Group was created. BAWG focuses on identifying policies, procedures and practices that may be potential barriers to equal opportunity employment. The Black Employment Strategy Team at Wright-Patterson is one of seven BAWG teams. Its focus is to identify and eliminate career barriers affecting Black Airmen and Guardians. The BEST’s vision is to eliminate artificial barriers to employing, advancing and retaining Black employees. The team reviews and analyzes guidelines, programs and data that could be barriers to employment, advancement and retention and provides recommendations to Air Force leadership. At the installation level, Member and Employee Resource Groups function as a voluntary, employee-led association that provide an official forum for service members and employees to present their concerns and advocate for change as a united front. MERGs are critical for effective barrier analysis. Barrier analysis identifies the root causes of disparities in equal employment opportunities so that federal agencies can take action to remedy the policies, procedures and practices that lead to such disparities. “We analyze the results of the Defense Organizational Climate Surveys and look for things that are off,” said Ruthie Barnes, BEST program manager. “We bring those to the attention of leadership. Issues fester if they are not known. And sometimes it can be a simple fix.” Barnes noted that attempting to resolve issues at the lowest level and providing unconscious bias training are the first lines of defense. “Simply talking through the issue will sometimes be the ‘aha’ moment for leaders,” said Barnes. “They might not realize there was an issue, and they can course correct right there without going through the equal employment opportunity office.” The WPAFB BEST is working on a variety of lines of effort that have been identified as a part of the barrier analysis process. These LOEs include: Inclusive male grooming standards. Historically Black college and university mentoring and recruitment programs. Hiring practices. Civilian advancement. The Air Force is driving to create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible culture with the goal of enabling all team members to bring their maximum input to our competitive operations world-wide.