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Strength in diversity

Raytheon executive champions the company's inclusive culture

The Ad Club of Boston has honored Raytheon's Randa Newsome with its prestigious Diversity & Inclusion Visionary Award.

Randa Newsome saw a problem.

In January 2015, when she became Raytheon’s chief human resources officer, the 61,000-employee company was about 27 percent female and 25 percent people of color. The numbers themselves weren’t the issue; they were typical of the aerospace and defense industry.

The real problem was those numbers—Raytheon's representation of women and people of color—had barely improved in years. This despite some of the most progressive employee benefits in the industry, a strong record of pay equality among men and women and consecutive perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which benchmarks companies based on policies and practices that pertain to LGBT employees.

“We were doing so much, but it wasn’t enough,” Newsome said. “In this day and age, we couldn’t afford to miss out on top talent.”

In addition, Raytheon’s workforce was aging. Its Gen-X and Gen-Y employees were changing companies more frequently and it was competing with more than 90 percent of the S&P 500 for employees with highly specialized skills.

“We must create an environment where every single employee and candidate can envision their whole self thriving, succeeding and finding purpose at Raytheon,” Newsome said. “Otherwise, we simply sabotage our own competitiveness.”

Newsome knew a remedy would be complicated. For one, the number of computing jobs held by U.S. women had been declining for years. Also, even though there would be about 1.4 million jobs in computing-related fields available by 2020, in segments like information security people of color accounted for only 12 percent of all analysts.

Raytheon was helping to build the pipeline of entry-level technical employees by promoting and supporting education in science, technology, engineering and math, the subjects known as STEM. Newsome’s mission was to address the development, recruitment and retention of diverse talent. 

“In the beginning, everyone offered up a different silver bullet,” Newsome said. “But I knew the solution had to be something more. It had to be a holistic plan.”

Newsome and her team spent months building a strategic plan that launched in early 2016. The multi-year plan, which incorporates researched, process- and culture-focused efforts to address what Newsome calls the “talent imperative,” recently led the Ad Club of Boston to honor her with its prestigious Diversity & Inclusion Visionary Award.

“This plan impacts everything from how we source candidates for employment to how we identify and develop high performers, to how we evaluate employee contributions to the company,” Newsome said. “And we are driving leader responsibility and accountability more than ever before.” 

Highlights of the multi-year plan include revamped talent acquisition and development processes; required training on topics like unconscious bias and inclusive leadership; a new performance rating system; diversity-related annual goals; and a communications campaign to drive conversation and action around fostering a diverse and inclusive environment.

“We are just a year in, but we are already beginning to see meaningful results,” Newsome said. “We will continue to study what’s working, what’s not working and what might emerge in the months and years ahead.”

In 2016, 95 percent of Raytheon leaders completed some form of diversity and inclusion training. And more than 60 percent of the open Raytheon positions targeted by this plan were filled with a woman or person of color.  

“Randa is a passionate champion helping us to drive tangible change,” said Raytheon Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Kennedy. “That makes us not only a better organization for employees, but more effective for customers as well.”

Published: 07/06/2017

Last Updated: 07/25/2017

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