May 4, 2005
Attendees: Jeremy Rusin, Jessica Kondel, Carlos Garza, Jeff McLain, and Rick
Rogers. Advisor: Maria Harris. Absent: Rod Miller, Rick Wantuck, Laura Tezer, Nancy
Fisher, Jessica Matson and Jerry Norton.
Jeremy Rusin, Chair, opened the meeting at 1:05 p.m. Because the SW EEOAC was not
taking any decisions at the meeting and because Natalie Huff had joined the call, the
meeting was not canceled despite not reaching a quorum.
Approval of the Minutes:
Approval of the April meeting minutes was postponed until the June meeting in order to
allow more time for discussion with Natalie Huff.
Jeremy opened the meeting by introducing Natalie Huff, NMFS National Program Manager
for EEO and Diversity, to the meeting. Natalie was invited to participate in this
months SW EEOAC meeting to provide insight into an effective EEOAC. Natalie started
the meeting by explaining the difference between EEO and Diversity. Natalie provided
several distinctions between the two. For example, EEO is required by law and helps to
bring individuals into the workplace; Diversity issues, such as family friendly policies,
are dealt with once the employee enters the workforce. Natalie recommended that because we
are an EEOAC we take care not to work on Diversity issues, as Diversity Committees already
provide this function. While other regional EEOACs have expanded into Diversity activities
and issues, this is not necessarily appropriate.
It was also emphasized during the call that the purpose of an EEOAC is to help ensure
that employees know where to find information about a particular issue. EEOAC members are
not trained in handling civil rights or employee disputes; instead the EEOAC members
should help make employees aware of the services available to them. We are "the eyes
and ears of our respective offices." Natalie pointed out that the NOAA Administrative
Order 215-6 (in the EEO folders that Jessica Kondel recently distributed) for EEOACs
should be the main source of information for the purpose, scope, and responsibilities of
Natalie provided some examples of areas in which the EEOAC could be involved. These
examples included identifying recruitment sources, identifying and staffing scientific and
career events, and serving as the liaison between management and employees on EEO and
Affirmative Action issues. Specifically, Natalie mentioned that the HQ EEOAC has used
brown bag lunches to discuss EEO issues that may be of interest to the workforce and that
this may be something that the SW EEOAC could also organize. Some of the topics discussed
at brown bags include hiring practices, promotions, and training. Natalie also discussed
the benefits of having a senior management official, such as an ARA, sit in on the monthly
EEOAC calls. This allows for managers and supervisors to keep in touch with current EEO
issues and activities, and also lends support to the committee.
Natalie also offered that some EEO committees have used various incentives to promote
or improve participation on EEOACs. This might be something we want to consider in the
Southwest. Incentives have ranged from plaques for managers who have made extra efforts in
EEO activities to cash in account awards for EEOAC members.
Several committee members asked Natalie questions to clarify the differences between
EEO and Diversity. It was also asked if Natalie planned on having a call of all EEOAC
members from all regions. Natalie said she would like to in the near future as soon as
some of the informational materials were updated. Natalie had to leave the call at 1:45.
The SW EEOAC thanked her for her participation and the information she provided.
The SW EEOAC members on the call went on to further discuss the information that
Natalie provided. It was discussed that we need to be aware of the differences between EEO
and Diversity, but since there is no diversity committee in the SW undertaking some issues
which border between EEO and Diversity may be acceptable.
In terms of increasing the SW EEOACs role as liaison to management and for the
purpose of increasing EEOAC recruitment, Jeff suggested that an email be sent out
periodically (e.g., quarterly) to employees reminding them of the role of the EEOAC, the
EEOAC website, and information about our monthly meetings. Jeff offered to draft an email
of this kind for the EEOACs review.
It was also suggested that the committee try to have a senior official sit in as an
observer on the SW EEOAC meetings. Maria suggested that Jeremy try to get this on the
agenda for one of the RMT meetings.
The next SW EEOAC meeting is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PDT on Wed., June 1.
The meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.