WASHINGTON, D.C. – One of the USDA Forest Service’s core values is respecting the diversity of all people and communities we engage. This includes appreciating the perspectives, ideas, cultures and experiences that our employees embody and bring to the workplace.
In February, we take time to celebrate Black History Month. It’s a time to reflect and celebrate the remarkable achievements of Black men and women and their contributions to our great nation and agency. It’s also a time to reflect on the trials and tribulations that African Americans suffered and continue to face today.
As an agency, we are challenged to attract and retain African American employees. Currently, our permanent workforce in the Forest Service is only 3.8% African American, compared to 12.1% in the civilian labor force. In order to have a workforce representative of the people we serve, and to be attractive so that diverse candidates want to join our great agency, we need to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued and respected for who they are. This goal can only be achieved if we take the time to learn about and appreciate each other’s unique histories and traditions.
In our efforts to build community and meaningfully engage those whom we work with and serve, let us be intentional in making time to learn more about each other’s experiences, values and aspirations. These collective efforts can help establish trust, strengthen connections and break down inequities. The observance of Black History Month provides opportunities to learn.
The theme for Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote” and it speaks to the struggle the African American community encountered in their fight for voting rights. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the 15th Amendment (1870) and the right of black men to the ballot after the Civil War.
All are encouraged to participate in or host events at regions, stations, areas or in their respective communities to enhance awareness and celebrate the unique history and contributions of the Black community. Please ensure any hosted events are fully accessible to all.
To learn more about information and resources, please visit the Outreach and Diversity SharePoint site (internal link).