Over the past few months, our Technology Transformation Services (TTS) team shared some of the ways we strive to embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and empower our diverse workforce. One particularly successful initiative began when our TTS Working While Black affinity group took over, or led the sharing of, content for the internal employee communications channel to celebrate Black History Month. The group’s goal was to create a safe space for our Black colleagues to share Black history facts, achievements, and stories with the TTS team. By sharing our stories and reflections, we created a more open and transparent work environment that extended beyond the (virtual) workplace walls and into our personal lives.
This successful initiative inspired other TTS affinity groups to host similar community discussions around:
- Women’s History Month,
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month,
- PRIDE Month,
- Back to School,
- Hispanic Heritage Month,
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and most recently
- Veterans Day, and
- Native American and Indigenous Peoples’ Month.
In TTS, we are committed to promoting an inclusive environment where we celebrate what brings us together and makes us unique. Community programming, such as internal employee communications channel takeovers and sharing user stories more broadly in blogs, are some of the ways that we encourage a grassroots, inclusive approach towards promoting diversity in our workplace.
We recognize that the most effective teams are cross-functional and have diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills — with high levels of cultural competency and inclusivity. By prioritizing an equity-focused, people-centered approach to our design practices, we can proactively reduce negative impacts and improve usability and accessibility of our products for people. This approach helps TTS, and teams throughout GSA, use government leverage technology to remove barriers, reduce disparities, enhance accessibility, and design systems that work for everyone.
We are so thankful for our team’s diversity in lived experiences and their willingness to share new perspectives.
Please enjoy a few excerpts from our takeovers:
“I am a first-generation American in my family. When you ask me where I am from, I often stumble because I don't know if you're asking me where I'm from in the States (Miami, Florida) or my origins (Dominican Republic). Spanish was my first language. In college, I self-educated myself on my deep roots descending from Africa. You can see it EVERYWHERE in Caribbean culture — the food, the music, our facial and body features, the spiritual practices, even the dialects in some cases. I could not be more proud of my African roots!”–Jessyka Castillo, TTS Diversity Guild Co-Lead, Black History Month Takeover
“Jennifer is one of the incredible founding members of the TTS Office of Acquisition! ...Jenn is inquisitive and loves to learn. She brings a diverse set of acquisition skill sets and a wealth of knowledge to OA. Jenn values building relationships across divisions and is always up for a brainstorming session along with a good laugh!”
–Jennifer Calik, TTS Office of Acquisition, nomination from Women’s History Month celebration
“What does a congresswoman from the house, the 14th Surgeon General of the United States, and the highest-ranking Hispanic at NASA Glenn Research Center have in common? They are all alumni from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), a public institution mainly responsible for creating the middle class on the island...Its contributions extend to Latin America, given the language, location, and cultural ties.” –Edwin Torres, 18F, HIspanic Heritage Month Takeover
“I never thought that I would spend most of my adult life in public service but I am still here because of a single reason -- the mission to make someone’s life better by building something better. It’s the idea of fixing a program so a widow can carry on, an orphan can find a home, an adult down on their luck can get back on their feet.”
–Anil Chaudry, Centers of Excellence, Veterans Day Takeover