Newport News Shipbuilding is advancing its ‘inclusion and diversity strategy,’ and this hire will help with that

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Maria "Beth" Silsdorf is the new director of EEO and Diversity at Newport News Shipbuilding. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries)
Maria “Beth” Silsdorf is the new director of EEO and Diversity at Newport News Shipbuilding. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries)

The Newport News Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries recently hired Maria “Beth” Silsdorf to lead the company’s EEO and Diversity department.

The retired U.S. Navy captain will work under Susan Jacobs, vice president of human resources and administration for the shipyard.

“I am confident that Beth’s experience will help us continue efforts to build a culture that embraces everyone’s differences while advancing our inclusion and diversity strategy,” Jacobs said.

Silsdorf previously worked as the program manager of talent acquisition and development at the Technical Solutions division at the shipyard and led inclusivity and diversity efforts at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, according to the company’s news release.

Duane Bourne, Newport News Shipbuilding spokesman, said the position is not new and has been around for several years.

In an interview with WYDaily, Silsdorf said she feels the position is important because it shows that the company values inclusivity and a diverse culture.

Her intention is add value to the company by improving the overall workplace environment for their employees.

“We have a very diverse workforce,” she said. “I’m really spending my first 90 days in a period of focused learning.”

Silsdorf said she has been having “a lot” of one-on-one interviews with group leaders and select employees.

One initiative is educating and training supervisors to create an inclusive atmosphere.

“We spend more time at work than we do with our families,” she added.

The difference between diversity and inclusivity?

“Diversity is a fact,” Silsdorf said. “It’s your current state of what your workforce looks like.”

She compared the two with an anecdote: diversity is going to the dance while inclusivity is being asked to dance on the dance floor.

On the Huntington Ingalls Industries website, the company noted its commitment its employees and other community members.

“We are committed to a work environment that encourages employees to raise concerns, speak up and report suspected misconduct without fear of retaliation,” according to the website. “Our employees demonstrate their integrity, dedication and commitment to quality in their daily work and are committed to improving performance and creating success.”

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