NOAA holds inaugural We Are NOAA Week

First-of-its-kind week examined progress and opportunities to advance agency priorities

A collage of NOAA employees holding hand-made signs that say, "I am NOAA."
We are NOAA banner. (NOAA)

This week’s We Are NOAA Week recognized the challenges of advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) at NOAA; the progress made; and the outstanding opportunities ahead. 

Dr. Rick Spinrad, NOAA Administrator, kicked off the tremendously successful We Are NOAA week, stating, “I believe firmly that DEIA is the right thing to do as a key part of my leadership philosophy and also hold that DEIA is doing things right in how we manage the organization and engage with our partners and customers.” 

In underscoring the importance of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Orders on DEIA and environmental justice, the week featured a conversation between NOAA leadership and Employee Resource Group members about how to move the needle on DEIA and create culture change in NOAA. Both an internal webpage about DEIA efforts and the first We Are NOAA DEIA newsletter were launched. 

Dr. Spinrad and Ben Friedman, NOAA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Operations, provided updates on the progress of implementing NOAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, and affirmed their commitments to the following:

  • Workforce Diversity: Recruit, attract, and retain a diverse, highly capable workforce;
  • Workplace Inclusion: Build a work environment that promotes inclusion; and
  • Sustainability: Build sustained and adaptive leadership committed to a diverse and inclusive NOAA through accountability, data, and education.

During the week, NOAA hosted the “Turning the Tide” Summit on DEIA/Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment (SASH), which focused on NOAA’s efforts to foster and sustain a culture of respect in which everyone in the NOAA community feels safe, valued, and included. The Summit featured panels and other events with talented DEIA professionals, all sharing valuable insights, educational materials, and best practices on improving DEIA and reducing SASH in our workplace.

    To ensure NOAA continues its efforts against SASH, Dr. Spinrad affirmed his commitment to the following:

    • Creating a work environment free from SASH, where the entire NOAA workforce can thrive to their full potential;
    • Providing evidence-based, trauma-informed response services for all NOAA employees impacted by SASH in the workplace; and
    • Educating our workforce on resources and strategies to recognize and intervene when observing SASH-related incidents and bolstering safety for all in our NOAA community.

    NOAA’s Diversity and Professional Advancement’s “20% Podcast” (named for the portion of NOAA staff who represent racial minorities) released a new episode each day of We Are NOAA Week with interviews with NOAA employees from diverse backgrounds and skill sets. In addition, NOAA released a behavioral health resources fact sheet as well as a podcast on workforce burnout. This short podcast covered stress and burnout in the context of the pandemic and diversity and inclusion.

    Congratulations for a successful week to NOAA leadership, panelists, and podcast hosts and their guests. A special shout-out goes to the many NOAA employees who participated not just in We Are NOAA Week, but who are constantly pushing the NOAA community to be a better, more inclusive place to work. The week emphasized the need to keep pushing, to continue to ensure that NOAA is a diverse, equitable, inclusive, accessible, and safe place to work. The voices, issues and feedback heard during the week will remain priorities as NOAA steadfastly tackles the challenges and optimizes the opportunities of advancing DEIA and environmental justice, both within NOAA and in our work in communities across America.