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Inaugural Women’s Leadership Symposium a Success for AFSOC

Leadership from the 24th Special Operations Wing, home of Air Force Special Tactics, tune in to a keynote session during the Inaugural Air Force Special Operations Command Women’s Leadership Symposium Oct. 29, 2020 at the wing headquarters building at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The symposium included speakers from across the AFSOC community, Department of Defense and academia to spark productive discussions on diversity and inclusion initiatives across the force. (Photo by 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs)

Leadership from the 24th Special Operations Wing, home of Air Force Special Tactics, tune in to a keynote session during the Inaugural Air Force Special Operations Command Women’s Leadership Symposium Oct. 29, 2020 at the wing headquarters building at Hurlburt Field, Fla. The symposium included speakers from across the AFSOC community, Department of Defense and academia to spark productive discussions on diversity and inclusion initiatives across the force. (Photo by 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --

Air Force Special Operations Command hosted its inaugural Women’s Leadership Symposium, Oct. 28-29, with the theme “Courageous Leaders – Effective Mentors” featuring four keynote speakers and eight breakout sessions.

The virtual symposium included discussions on the increasing role of women in the special operations community, the power of male allies and inclusive mentorship in the work place, and mission success through inclusive leadership.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of AFSOC and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Cory Olson, command chief of AFSOC, opened the event with a discussion on why these inclusive leadership forums are valuable to AFSOC.

This AFSOC Women’s Leadership Symposium is so valuable because it exposes members of our organization to perspectives they might not otherwise have,” said Slife. “It will help them learn to see things through different perspectives and it might teach them different techniques to be more inclusive.”

One of the keynote sessions included Drs. Brad Johnson and David Smith, co-authors of “Athena Rising,” a book on how men can show up as allies for women in the workplace and why men should mentor women.

“When men are engaged in doing the work around gender diversity and in creating gender equity in the workplace, they are more successful in reaching the diversity and inclusion goals they have,” said Johnson.

During the symposium, Slife was asked about the issue of expectations and standards between men and women in the command and across the Air Force.

 “At the end of the day, my view on the issue of standards is that if you can show me a direct connection of the standard to the mission then I don’t really care who you are or what your gender is or any other aspect of diversity,” said Slife.  “To me, if it helps us accomplish the mission and we are clear and consistent about the standard then that’s as far as the conversation need to go.”

Looking to the future in AFSOC’s Strategic Guidance, Slife said that the command cannot afford to leave any talent on the sidelines. There are major strategic challenges around the corner and marginalization cannot be accepted.

“We should see each other as human beings and treat each other with personal dignity and respect, regardless of whether you agree or disagree. There is a degree of respect that’s required for us to be effective as an organization,” said Slife.