The National Nuclear Security Administration needs to promote leadership, trust building and communication with minority communities at the nation’s nuclear security laboratories.
That was the message NNSA Administrator Gen. John Gordon sent Wednesday as he addressed a full Sandia auditorium on “The Importance of Diversity Within the NNSA.”
Gordon said that next week’s Tri-Lab Meeting, at which employees and senior managers from Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia will engage in discussions of “best practices” of each respective institution, will provide a forum to help NNSA’s officials meet diversity goals.
“We need to learn how to better promote a diverse work environment and move toward understanding, not just policy,” Gordon said. “We need to do it because it’s the law, it’s the moral thing to do and most important it’s the right thing to do…We need to turn the image around for DOE so it is the place to work.
“We’ve lost a degree of trust when employees won’t go to their first level managers because they fear retaliation or that no action will take place. You deserve a response and interaction and exchange. It’s hard to legislate these issues. You need cooperation and trust.”
Though he admitted that the Department of Energy doesn’t have the best track record, Gordon said those very same issues can be used as a catalyst for change.
He cited the Wen Ho Lee case and the incident when Congressman David Wu was not permitted to attend a DOE function because he arrived at the wrong entrance to the building. Though Wu showed his congressional identification card to security officers, he was still not permitted in the building.
“These types of high profile events strengthen tensions that are already out there,” Gordon said.
Gordon said that rebuilding trust with the minority community especially within the Asian American community after the Lee case is one of the biggest challenges. He said mentoring and training need to be provided so that all employees are given equal opportunities to move up within the laboratories as well as the NNSA.
During a question and answer session, Gordon addressed questions from the audience, which included Sandia and LLNL employees and the Sandia Albuquerque audience that watched via television