Allies all around
Raytheon employees sign on to show support for LGBTQ colleagues
Of the hundreds of signatures on Raytheon’s GLBT Ally Wall – a set of banners to show support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees – one stands out in Ivan Galloza’s mind: Tom Kennedy, the company’s chairman and CEO.
It’s not just that Kennedy signed the wall. And it’s not just that he was the first to do it.
It’s that he underlined his name.
"He didn’t just sign it as if it was another piece of paper. He signed it with enthusiasm and, most importantly, conviction," said Galloza, a systems engineer and a leader in Raytheon’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Allies employee resource group. “That particular moment made me feel that Raytheon was a community where I was welcomed. I had the big man at my back, by my side."
In the year since Kennedy signed the wall, it has traveled thousands of miles to Raytheon locations across the United States, from the Arizona desert to the Florida coast. It has amassed hundreds of brightly colored signatures – some big, some small, some in looping cursive and some in plain print, but all sending the same message: Raytheon supports LGBTQ employees.
The wall is now on display at the company’s global headquarters. At a recent standing-room-only ceremony, company employees celebrated the wall’s journey and its return to Massachusetts, with everyone from interns to executives lining up to sign it.
"It’s a constant reminder of our commitment to one another," said Randa Newsome, Raytheon’s vice president of human resources and security. "We have the opportunity to live that commitment out each and every day that we come to work."
Raytheon takes diversity and inclusion seriously. The Human Rights Campaign has named Raytheon a "Best Place to Work" for LGBTQ equality for 13 straight years, and in 2005 the company was the first in the defense industry to achieve a perfect rating from that organization.
Before that, in 2002, Raytheon became one of the first defense companies to extend employee benefits to domestic partners, and in June 2016, the company became the first in its field to offer paid parental leave to all employees. Raytheon's GLBT employee group includes not only gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, but others who stand with them.
Raytheon Chief Financial Officer Anthony F. O'Brien, the group's senior leader adviser, said ally groups allow people to get to know one another, "so people who are different from one another can find a common place of understanding."
Kennedy himself has urged employees to treat one another with dignity and respect, saying the company’s inclusive culture helps retain and attract top talent and suppliers and gives Raytheon "a competitive advantage as a key enabler of our growth."
And nowhere is that message of inclusion more evident than in the Ally Wall. The banners are the idea of Dimitri Makris, a Raytheon engineer and another leader in the GLBTA employee group. He said he wanted a physical, tangible display of support for LGBTQ employees and recruits – and to make it clear that the company's leadership stands with them.
"The Ally Wall gave everyone the comfort to come out," he said, "and to bring your full self to work."