TSA employees dedicated to diverse, inclusive workplace

Monday, October 19, 2020
Diversity at PHL

TSA employees in Philadelphia are making a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Over 200 TSA Philadelphia (PHL) team members participated in a Diversity and Inclusion pledge signing ceremony. The event showcased original diversity- and inclusion-themed artwork and a locally developed diversity pledge that read “We at TSA Philadelphia pledge our commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect for all.”

PHL Commitment
PHL TSA commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“The original idea was to highlight the talented people here at TSA Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Federal Security Director Gerardo Spero. “I knew we had employees who were talented artists, photographers and videographers. I wanted a campaign that highlighted those talents by creating original artwork that would reflect the spirit of TSA Philadelphia.”

Two PHL baggage officers, Thomas Wilson and Marc Akins, stepped forward and were commissioned to do the artwork. “I really appreciate the opportunity to create work reflecting the many wonderful officers while also representing Philadelphia in my artwork,” said Akins.

Both artists produced some amazing pieces, but when asked about this initiative, Spero deftly shifted the conversation to talking about his people. “After the George Floyd incident, we were sensitive to the issues surrounding our employees, city and our workplace, and we wanted to be responsive to our employees and acknowledge our commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Spero. “So the two projects coalesced and evolved into artwork that reflected diversity and inclusion here at TSA PHL.”

The effort began to take on a life of its own as PHL developed its own diversity pledge and worked it into the art. Akins and Wilson each spent weeks of their own time to come up with concepts and art that reflected their interpretation of diversity and inclusion (D&I) at PHL. Once they completed the artwork, PHL set up a gallery with 15 pieces displayed. All employees were invited to attend the unveiling and a signing ceremony where officers signed two copies of the pledge, reaffirming their commitment to D&I. The signed posters now hang in prominent locations to remind everyone of their shared commitment.

TSA inspector Rebecca Blumenstein, plans to recommend the program as a model for other airports to use.

PHL signing pledge
PHL Officers sign the D&I pledge.

Akins added, “It was an honor to create work that expresses all the different and sometimes difficult work that DHS/TSA does to protect the traveling public.”

"It was an honor to work on this project,” Wilson added. “Whenever I look at my coworkers in TSA, I see people of strong mind and will working together to protect our nation. I wanted to reflect that in my artwork.”

“This is just the first step,” said Spero. “We got together and wanted to show the employees that we care. The next steps will be to continue this great program and produce art and videos that help keep TSA Philadelphia a tight knit group of dedicated individuals.”