Diversity is a critical component of every workplace. As all leaders know, the more diverse employees’ backgrounds, ideas and experiences are, the more successful the organization is.
As a leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory, I know this firsthand. I’ve seen time and again how bringing together diverse teams where everyone has a voice results in more creative problem-solving and better team cohesion. It also bolsters morale.
That’s why the Laboratory is committed to creating a workplace atmosphere where people from every background feel welcomed and their input valued. To this end, we have a vast network of employee resource groups to advocate for often underrepresented populations—from Native Americans to women in STEM; from military veterans to people with disabilities. In total, we have 12 ERGs to meet different workforce needs. Laboratory management works closely with these ERGs to hear and address their concerns and to celebrate their contributions.
For example, this is Pride month, when we recognize the important contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to our communities and workplaces, and celebrate their hard-fought battle for equal rights. As part of this celebration, during Pride Week, the Laboratory flies the Progress Pride flag at five locations in both Los Alamos and Santa Fe. Members of our Prism ERG, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group, will also participate in area Pride celebrations by staffing booths and marching in parades. This community has a long history of contributing to our national missions and we want to continue to support a diverse workforce.
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But equally as important to these external displays of solidarity and support is what happens on the Los Alamos campus. Through Prism, employees are given the opportunity to attend or participate in presentations about different issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.
The Laboratory is also designating 200 single-stall restrooms across the site as gender-neutral and providing employees with a locator map so they can be easily accessed.
These efforts are not just important from an inclusivity standpoint, but from a business one as well. Multiple studies have illustrated that the more diverse a workforce is, the better performance outcomes that organization has.
It’s also crucial for recruitment. Nearly 80 percent of American workers say it’s important to them to work for an organization that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. The Laboratory’s workforce is growing rapidly; we anticipate hiring 1,300 people per year for the next five years. With the current job market being exceptionally tight, it requires equally exceptional efforts to attract the best and brightest new recruits. Demonstrating our commitment to diversity is one way to show the next generation of Laboratory employees that we are an organization that is leading the way when it comes to inclusion.
It’s no secret that the workforce is changing. If we’re to meet the scientific and technological challenges of tomorrow head-on, we need to hire and cultivate future leaders who understand intrinsically that, when everyone is valued, we all win. The Laboratory is ready to be part of that change.
Kelly Beierschmitt is deputy director for Operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the champion for the Prism employee resource group, which is an advocacy group for the Lab’s LGBTQ+ community.