21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
The purpose of the Equal Opportunity office is to promote good relations between people in the workplace without regard to race, national origin, color, religion, gender, age or disability. The EO office at Peterson assists civilian and active duty personnel in discrimination and sexual harassment complaints, provides education, and surveys organizations through climate assessments.
Maintaining functional and healthy relationships is of high importance to Rex Jones, the new 21st Space Wing Equal Opportunity director.
“On a list of priorities, family and faith are at the top,” Mr. Jones said. “I think if you are asked to manage a profession it is about managing people. If you can manage relationships at home, I think you should be able to manage relationships in the workplace.”
Mr. Jones is new to the area, but has a local tie: in the early 1990s Mr. Jones was mentored by retired Chief Master Sgt. Bob Vásquez at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
“One of the reasons America is great is that we Americans value and expect that all people have the equal opportunity to reach their own individual potential,” Chief Vásquez said. He is now the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Center for Character Development course director.
“Commanders are entrusted with seeing that Warrior (Airmen) and their families don’t discriminate and are not discriminated against and do, I believe, an exceptional job at that. I think it’s one of the reasons Warrior (Airmen) stay in service,” he said.
While Mr. Jones is new to the area, he is not new to the field. He arrives here from Hawaii, where he was the state equal employment manager for the National Guard. Mr. Jones is licensed to teach and mentor the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, various “personality tests,” which are lessons in personal change. The skills assisted him during an Air Force merger of separate civilian and military EO offices.
The merger also placed discrimination and sexual harassment under the same EO roof. Mr. Jones thinks another merger will occur across the Air Force with sexual assault response coordinators in the near future.
“Even though our force is becoming more sensitive to these issues we still need to provide a process,” he said. “A lot of people don’t like change, but it is beneficial — even those that do not like it will be one step ahead of the workforce.”
The military portion of EO is conducted through in-house investigations and interviews with parties involved, while the civilian portion requires a company to conduct the investigation that is sent to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a federal judge.
Chief Vásquez, also an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, is presently focused on relationships while writing a leadership book.
“The most basic human need in human relations is respect,” Chief Vásquez said. “We all want to be respected for who we are and what we do. The next level is valuing. We all want to be valued as a person and want our work to be seen as important, because we bring something different to the table. The third level is celebrating the differences. When you get to that level you really have a healthy group, unit, team and family.”
There is a hotline for military personnel and civilians to call in EO complaints and the calls are kept confidential. To reach the EO hotline, call 1-888-231-4058 or DSN 665-5241.