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NEWS | Aug. 2, 2022

Joint Base MDL presents its first Cultural Intelligence seminar

By Daniel Barney Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

On July 29th, the 87th Air Base Wing Diversity and Inclusion hosted its first Cultural Intelligence seminar located at the McGuire base theater on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. This event provided the joint base community with the opportunity to learn about the true meaning and relevance behind cultural intelligence, and how it could impact the organizational structure of today’s military workforce, from present to the future. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Willie Baker III, 87th ABW diversity and inclusion superintendent, explained the purpose of this event.

“This event consists of two breakout sessions. During the first session, participants learn how diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DE&I) and cultural intelligence work together for more effective outcomes. In the second session, participants learn how to build cultural intelligence with their respective organizations,” said Baker. “After the completion of these breakout sessions, participants will be divided into two separate groups to deliver oral presentations that will explain the importance of cultural intelligence, along with the business, personal and ethical cases to support this topic.”

In addition, Baker stated that he saw cultural intelligence as a business imperative, due to the fact that the military workforce is “increasingly becoming more diverse” as time progresses. He believes that cultural intelligence will prepare current and future leaders with relevant resources and knowledge to lead cross-cultural and diverse teams, thus making the military “become stronger, more effective, agile, and capable of maintaining a competitive edge against its adversaries.” Later, he explained the challenges throughout his military career that prompted him to teach this seminar to the joint base community.

“Personally, I observed leaders who lacked awareness for cultural intelligence, which resulted in devaluing cognitive diversity, and not appreciating different or varying perspectives, possessing mindfulness, and harboring emotional intelligence,” stated Baker. “Consequently, this can also have a negative impact on decision-making, and prevent a unit from becoming a continuous learning organization.”

Baker’s prior military experiences have truly inspired him to create, coordinate and lead the seminar to serve the community. He believes that cultural intelligence will help the community to deepen its cultural understanding, place value of cultural differences, and allow it to adapt to different or unfamiliar environments. Baker shared what he expected his participants to learn from the seminar.

“I expect leaders to become active participants in expanding their horizons about other cultures, and look for opportunities to experience culturally diverse or different environments,” said Baker. “Also, I want my participants to gain confidence in becoming adaptable leaders that know how to inspire and motivate members in cross-cultural interactions, and from various backgrounds.”

As the lead speaker of the seminar, Oshawn Jefferson, Deal Solutions Group competitive strategist, shared his experience on teaching the joint base community about the concept of cultural intelligence.

“I am grateful to talk to the community about this topic because I appreciate hearing different perspectives, whether they come military service members, federal employees or civilians. Encouraging diverse minds from these aforementioned categories to come together and work as a team, rather than alienating from each other is a goal I strive to achieve from this event,” said Jefferson. “This is why these breakout sessions are important because they allow all participants, whether military or civilian, to share their voices, thoughts, and ideas with each other. Not only does this prepare them to deliver their presentations to the audience, but also to constantly increase the level of partnership within such a unique organizational structure.”

As Jefferson continued on his journey to spread the word and teach participants about the advantages of cultural intelligence, Baker ended on this statement, “Keep an open mind, stay engaged, remain focused and steadfast, and know that the efforts that we make, as a collective, are benefitting those that will replace us and lead the future of our Air Force.”