Q & A with Joanne Savoy in Recognition of Black History Month

Joanne Savoy works in the NRC’s Office of International Programs as a licensing assistant for the Exports Controls and Nonproliferation Branch. She has also been the chair of the agency’s Advisory Committee for African Americans (ACAA) for the past three years.

What is the ACAA?

joanneThe ACAA is one of eight Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committees here at the NRC. It reports to the Office of Small Business and Civil Rights and its goal is to assist in identifying issues that may impact African American employees. We also make recommendations to address those issues.

Why does diversity matter in the NRC workplace?

Diversity matters because everyone is able to bring different points of view to the table. Many of us come from different backgrounds, and we are able to take what we have experienced — and learned in our own diversified cultures — to add value to our everyday work life. Diversity at the NRC means a new way of thinking, and a new way for all of us to interact with each other and learn from each other.

How does diversity in the workforce help the NRC meet its mission?

There are many studies that prove that when workers are ethnically and racially diverse, are educated in different parts of the country, represent multiple generations, and come from various socio-economic backgrounds they collaborate and contribute in a way that makes an organization more successful and productive in accomplishing its mission.

The NRC permanent staff is made up of:

15% African Americans
10% Asians
6% Hispanics
1% Native Americans
67% White

We come from all parts of the country; we have been educated in many different colleges and universities, and in many different disciplines (both technical and non-technical). We represent every generation across every age group. We practice many different religions and beliefs and nearly 1% of our work force is employees with disabilities. This is the diversity that makes the NRC great.

Why is Black History Month important?

Black History Month is important because it is a time to reflect on how far we have come. Black History Month is a time for EVERYONE to celebrate ALL who have fought for African American rights and freedom. Judge Alan Rosenthal, a member of the NRC’s ASLPB, was the keynote speaker at the agency’s African American History month dinner in 2013. I was surprised to learn the agency had someone who played a vital role in the historic Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. I remember thinking how amazing it was to have met this man who had fought so hard for someone like me, so I would have the opportunities that I have today. I will never forget that moment. It made me realize how the NRC has heroes like Judge Rosenthal, who fought the fight for equal rights.

What should people make a point to do/think/reflect on during Black History Month?

We should make a point to volunteer and give back to our communities. There are people and children who need us to guide them and help them make their lives better. I also think we should continue to educate not only ourselves but our children about our history. There are so many great movies like Selma, Roots, 12 Years A Slave, Glory, The Butler, Malcom X, Road to Memphis, American Black Journal and so many more that can help the education process. We should be watching these movies and talking to our children, family and friends about what Black History Month means to us.

I am who I am because of the people — black and white — who have fought the fight for equal rights. Because of them, a woman like me is able to work here at the NRC and to have the freedom to do whatever I want. It is up to me and you to give back and continue the legacy and remember we have come a long way, but there is always more that we can do to continue with the our legacy.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Q & A with Joanne Savoy in Recognition of Black History Month”

  1. I remember when I started in the domestic nuclear industry in around 1980’s I didn’t feel comfortable with the NRC and my peers (licensee) being all male and white. Everyone has made tremendous progress to bring an end to this era…now having a much more diversified workforce. We are all better for this!

    We’ve even got women in submarines?

  2. Please post a listing by groups mentioned above showing what salaries these different groups make as compared to other groups; I expect to see that the largest group will also have the highest percentage of highly paid jobs, which if correct also points out another problem within the NRC, hiring equality in all salary groups…

  3. I like her comments and her work. Being chair person of ACAA, she is working hard to promote the importance of diversity in the workplace.

  4. Oh, wow, thank you! Thank you for sharing with a relative newbie in this realm.

    Now i see why we have 8 agencies to manage diversity issues in our one simple NRC. (Not that what the NRC does is simple, yet it is a one-issue commission and we shouldn’t need all that to get equality in a federal agency in 2015, yet again, #Ferguson and i probably don’t need to say much more. )

    I would hope everyone employed in our Exports Controls and Nonproliferation would be empowered to be integrating safety first and Real Nuclear Waste Confidence in every thought on every nano detail and most definitely in every policy action and licensing decision. Clearly, We have work to do. 60 years of not focusing on a comprehensive model for waste handling is showing. Every step leads to waste and should be integrated fundamentally.

  5. From the agency’s Career’s Web page: The NRC creates and maintains a work environment to maximize the potential of all employees. At the NRC, we encourage trust, respect, and open communication to foster and promote an inclusive work environment. Our goal is to build a diverse work force that is valued, appreciated and committed to enhancing regulatory excellence. More information on recruitment can be found here: http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/employment/workingatnrc.html .


  6. As chair of ACAA, one of the agency’s eight EEO advisory committees, I am keenly aware of the importance of diversity plays in making an organization such as the NRC successful and productive in accomplishing its mission. I bring this perspective to my job as a licensing assistant in the Exports Controls and Nonproliferation branch, with regard to multi-cultural issues that may arise when working with export license applicants and on occasion with foreign regulatory counterparts. As for your last question, that is outside my area of expertise.

    Joanne Savoy

  7. It is disappointing to see that any employer focuses on race diversity and is even proud that they have metrics. It makes one wonder if the metrics are forced. When an applicant enters the HR office, are the metrics considered? When the subordinate enters the office, should the supervisor be aware of her race? Should the subordinate notice his race? One wonders if there are metrics covering gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical disabilities. I imagine such a work environment would be complex, sensitive, and slow to make decisions.

  8. Oh, i so wanted a question about (1) why do we need 8 agencies in just the NRC alone to ensure equal opportunities? I mean, I’ve been to some meetings and instantly the nuance of unethical realities there, yet if we need 8 departments maybe we just need to fire some key people who are not promoting and maintaining equality; (2) how do you bring your unique experience and perspective to the international dialogue? And (3) what would you suggest we need to do or change next to secure Real Nuclear Waste Confidence for the children all over the world?

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