Aug. 31, 2001

Labs pledge collaboration to resolve diversity issues

A daylong diversity workshop for managers and other personnel from Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories concluded with each laboratory agreeing to take the lead role in combined efforts to address one of three major diversity issues, and ensure that necessary actions are taken to follow up. The three major issues identified were retention, recruitment and security policies.

LLNL will lead the retention initiative aimed at keeping employees at the labs; Los Alamos will lead the recruiting-based initiative that will focus on enhancing the image of the three labs and NNSA to attract potential employees to the labs, and Sandia will lead efforts to clarify security policies throughout the three-lab structure.

Lab officials, including Director Bruce Tarter (via prepared statement), Deputy Director Jeff Wadsworth, LANL Director John Browne and Sandia President Paul Robinson, affirmed their commitment to a diverse workforce and noted the importance of developing an all-inclusive strategy for addressing diversity issues. It will be up to the lab directors to determine the best ways to continue the diversity awareness effort.

"A diverse workforce is a priority for our Laboratory, and this meeting is an effective way of ensuring we remain dedicated to achieving our goals," said Tarter, adding that he regrets he was called away at the last minute due to a family medical emergency. However, Tarter reemphasized the Lab’s commitment to addressing the issues identified at the workshop.

"This was a very productive meeting," said Jan Tulk, LLNL’s associate director for Administration. "Diversity is important to the labs, and this was a way for employees and managers to share their ideas, creating a real atmosphere of cooperative progress on diversity topics."

NNSA Administrator Gen. John Gordon, who attended almost all of the sessions, stressed that the framework and lessons-learned from the workshop will be used by the labs to address diversity concerns of all their employees. The scope of this particular workshop was focused on the diversity concerns of Asian Pacific Islander American employees to allow for in-depth discussions.

"Before we can resolve the diversity concerns of any of our employees, we have to have a systematic way of identifying and clarifying them. The workshop was an important step in this process, and it was good to see the three labs working closely together to develop a joint strategy," Gordon said. "If we don’t get this right, we won’t be able to do the science expected of us to maintain national security."

"The meeting was a good way to get issues clearly defined and out on the table," said Tommy Smith of LLNL’s Affirmative Action & Diversity Program. "We also reached consensus on what the solutions ought to look like. I’m confident that the next steps, implementation and follow-through will be equally responsive. Overall, I think the model was successful and I look forward to developing similar actions to address other group concerns."

Seattle attorney Nelson Dong, a member of the Committee of 100, an Asian Pacific Islander advocacy group, gave a presentation on "American Demographics and History: Lessons for the National Laboratories." Dong said statistics show generally declining interest in graduate and post graduate science and engineering studies among U.S. citizens, and he noted that students from China and India currently are the dominant recipients of graduate and post-doctoral degrees in science and engineering from U.S. universities.

Lab leaders pledged to provide Gen. Gordon with action-plan summaries for their areas of responsibility within 30 days.