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03 8 2019

International Women's Day: NATO Agency Diversity Advocate offers perspective

At a quarterly breakfast, women of NATO gathered to discuss issues critical to the Alliance's success. Attendees of the second-ever breakfast held just a few weeks ago discussed technology and security with Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller.

"We want to leverage the voices of women in international debates like this one," said Diana De Vivo, who works on Stakeholder Engagement and serves as a Diversity Advocate for the NATO Communications and Information Agency.

In anticipation of International Women's Day we caught up with De Vivo to discuss her work, which includes a focus on closing the gender gap. The breakfasts are just one part of an effort she leads to harmonize the Agency's work to increase diversity and foster a culture of inclusion.

"We started to talk about the issue," De Vivo said of the effort she leads. "Because we felt that there were not enough forums to talk about diversity and inclusion, and gender equality, and what we can do to improve those metrics as an organization."

The Agency works in coordination with NATO Headquarters, and ensures its work is complementary.

"The value that we want to bring to the overall NATO efforts is to enhance diversity and inclusion in technology," De Vivo said.

Being a military organization, NATO has considerable gender imbalance among its staff.

Women made up 17 percent of the Agency's civilian workforce in 2017. People across the Agency are working together to lessen the gap, De Vivo said.

The Agency must look to do more than increasing diversity in hiring. It must work to offer more opportunities to women in leadership roles and ensure their ideas are supported, De Vivo said.

"We shouldn't be looking only at diversity, but also at establishing an inclusive environment every day," De Vivo said. "Because diversity is the metrics, but inclusion is the culture. So there must also be initiatives that are complementary to diversity that foster inclusion in the organization."

Ultimately, it's about creating a culture where everyone feels welcome.

International Women's Day: NATO Agency Diversity Advocate offers perspective

One positive move in this direction, De Vivo said, is the Agency's recently established induction boot camp.

The three-day event introduces new hires to the Agency, and to NATO. It's designed to give them the tools they need to succeed at the NCI Agency and feel part of the mission from their first day in the job.

At the Agency you can do important work, while enjoying practical benefits like flexible distance working when needed, De Vivo said.

"The NCI Agency is place where you can contribute to a mission larger than yourself," De Vivo said. "I encourage you to apply, and help us make a difference."

Click on these two interviews of Diana De Vivo, to better understand how she is challenging misperceptions about who belongs in defence and security: