May 4, 2021 —
The Inclusive Leadership, Excellence and Diversity (ILEAD) Council was reestablished and renamed earlier this year. Words matter, and the deliberate choice to add “inclusive” to the council’s official title reinforces the importance of inclusion as a leadership concept.
Through the reestablishment of the ILEAD Council, any member at any level of the service is more empowered to serve as an ally and advocate. The ILEAD Council is focused on advancing what’s working and flagging what’s not. Through networks at the local level, issues and best practices related to leadership, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts are passed from the unit level Leadership and Diversity Councils (LDACs) to the ILEAD Council.
With a better-connected network of diversity and inclusion champions, the ILEAD Council has made several enhancements to their structure to better support the workforce. “There’s a business case that’s often made for diversity and inclusion,” said Deputy Commandant for Mission Support, Vice Adm. Michael McAllister. “More importantly there’s the responsibility we have to each other as members of an organization like the Coast Guard; we come into the service with a commitment to respond to a problem, and the desire to be a solution. It's at the center of our identity as service members”
While the council includes membership from all levels of the workforce, senior leadership will rotate as co-chairs, to remain connected and informed. The co-chair roles will alternate between the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support and Pacific Area commander, and Deputy Commandant for Operations and Atlantic Area command LDAC chairs.
“Having this level of leadership involved means that concerns and suggestions from folks at the unit are not only socialized with command leadership but also put into action. It’s a forum to speak truth to power in a format that will make an impact.” McAllister said.
As individual events, changing a meeting charter or a single listening session may not seem like a cultural shift, but it is where we start. Improving the infrastructure of how we listen and are heard is where our work to become a more inclusive Coast Guard grows stronger. As members of existing LDACs and the ILEAD Council have come to realize over the course of our service’s more recent history, that is where the inclusion begins.
LDACS – expanding chapters and representation
A LDAC is the local group approach to impacting leadership and diversity. District commanders and commanding officers of sectors, air stations, cutters, and units with 50 or more members are required to establish LDACs. LDACs are responsible for assessing the workplace climate and culture in their respective areas, developing annual action plans for how they will impact diversity and leadership in their area, addressing leadership and diversity issues that can be resolved at the unit level, and forwarding issues that cannot be handled at the unit level up through the chain of command.
A PLAN IN PROGRESS
Improvements to employee resources are part of the larger Diversity & Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP). Launched in 2019, tangible resources like toolkits, committees and conferences demonstrate the Coast Guard’s ongoing commitment and implementation.