The Engine of Innovation
A Raytheon exec reveals how diversity fuels growth
Diversity is the engine of growth for modern businesses, Raytheon's head of international sales told a group of Asian-American engineers, as they honored the company for its progressive practices.
"We cannot answer the questions today from our customers without diversity and inclusion," said John Harris, vice president of Global Business Development and CEO of Raytheon International. "Time and again, when you create an inclusive environment, you get the best solutions. What is even more satisfying is that the great ideas come from those individuals you would least expect."
The Society of Asian Scientists & Engineers, an advocacy group for Asian-heritage scientists and engineers, recognized Raytheon as the Company of the Year at the organization’s annual conference in October. SASE also honored Harris as the Advocate of the Year and named Kristen Lee, Raytheon IDS senior mechanical engineer, as Emerging Leader of the Year.
Solving complex problems in challenging fields, from cyber defense to quantum computing, requires more than technical expertise, Harris said. Diversity of thought helps to draw on varied perspectives, knowledge and experiences to solve tough problems.
"There is no way that we can put together an innovative, actionable and sustainable approach without diversity and inclusion," he said.
As a longtime champion, Harris said diversity and inclusion open doors to the future through engagement, innovation and growth. In 30 years with Raytheon, he has experienced how diversity initiatives create a sense of community within this Fortune 500 company, and influence real business results.
"I have seen how a diverse workforce, one that has an openness to opinions, beliefs and cultural backgrounds, serves as a catalyst for innovation to help us achieve our business objectives,"Harris said. "And how it can cultivate a sense of connectivity across 61,000 employees in our global organization."
Harris received the SASE Advocate Award for his support of the Asian scientist and engineering community, as well as his dedication to helping further the professional development of its members.
In addition to leading the company's strategy and global business efforts, Harris fosters a more inclusive culture by supporting, mentoring and advocating for diversity and inclusion with employee resource groups, civic organizations and countless individuals. Raytheon hosts nine employee resource groups, which energize individuals to support business objectives and contribute to projects in local communities.
As a senior leader advisor, Harris engages with the Raytheon Asian Pacific Association's leaders and members throughout the year, including at the annual Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers Conference.
"I understand the great comfort that comes from not feeling alone, and the value of organizations like SASE," he said. "Organizations that bring their unique sensibilities and perspectives to the concerns of a community are vital to all those associated with them."
Harris has been deeply involved in Raytheon's efforts to adopt progressive policies. Raytheon was the first aerospace and defense company to offer domestic partner benefits, and was the first in its sector to achieve a perfect rating on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. Raytheon has been named "Best Place to Work" for 11 years in a row, and received a 100 percent rating on the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign.
"Through my experiences with Raytheon,"he said, "I've learned that positive change comes to those who embrace diversity and celebrate inclusiveness."
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