According to defense.gov, the DoD’s mentorship program is the oldest continuously operating federal mentor-protégé program in existence. Though leaders in the Navy provide mentorship up and down the chain-of-command while serving on active duty, Alphonso Hayes, a retired chief logistics specialist, continues to guide and shape the Navy through retirement.
Alphonso Hayes is Navy Region Mid-Atlantic's (CNRMA) senior equal employment opportunity (EEO) specialist.
“My last tour on active duty, I spent as an equal employment opportunity advisor. The command I was at didn’t have an EEO representative and I was asked to take on the responsibility. I accepted because I knew it might be something I would be interested in once I retired. So, I networked, took classes, and maintained relationships that helped me get into this field once I retired,” said Hayes.
“I have always been a person that tried to speak up for people who didn’t have a voice. Even as a kid, that was my mindset. It just really bothers me to see people being harassed or discriminated against. I’ve had instances in my own military career in which I was treated unfairly because of my race. I hated that feeling of helplessness, and don’t want anyone else to have to feel or experience that,” said Hayes.
As the senior EEO specialist he mentors four other specialists, and overseess the Management Directive-715 (MD-715) Report. MD-715 provides a roadmap for agencies to plan, implement and measure their success in providing equal opportunity for applicants and employees.
“I think my work is important because if a person is being harassed or discriminated against, then they can’t fully perform their jobs because of the distraction. Eliminating those distractions enables workers to focus on their jobs, enabling them to be more productive,” said Hayes.
Hayes reviews EEO policies, procedures and practices to ensure that any barriers - institutional, attitudinal or physical - are identified, and a plan of action is developed and implemented.
“I get an opportunity to impact policies and programs that directly affect the livelihood of our workforce. My work directly affects how our [employees] are treated, how they are compensated [and] how they advance, and helps determine if they continue to work for us or if they choose to seek employment somewhere else,” said Hayes.
As an EEO practitioner, Hayes says he not only enjoys helping others, but also enjoys serving as a model of the behaviors he teaches within his own office.
“It’s always a great feeling to be able to help someone in need. The satisfaction of seeing someone get an issue resolved and be able to go back to work in an environment free of harassment or discrimination is an awesome feeling,” said Hayes.
Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic (CNRMA) is the regional coordinator for all shore-based naval personnel and shore activities in the mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses 20 states, 14 installations, and 50 naval operational support centers.
As the naval shore installation management headquarters for the mid-Atlantic region, CNRMA provides coordination of base operating support functions for operating forces throughout the region in support of the fleet, fighter and family.