Members of our LGBTQ+ employee resource groups are often leaders inside the company and within their communities. Brandon Power, vice president of a regional chapter of the RAYPRIDE ERG, was no exception.
Power, an operations engineer with a degree in industrial engineering, was active in the ERG community. He was a vocal leader, with many who knew him remembering his way with words and positive attitude.
'My fondest memory of Brandon was his humorous lingo when we would talk. I can only smile when thinking of how a conversation would start with Brandon. He had such a happy, upbeat spirit that I will always remember,' said Rodney Walker, a configuration analyst at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a business of Raytheon Technologies.
Sadly, Power died in March of 2021.
In tribute to Power and in honor of Pride Month, we spoke to LGBTQ+ and company leaders who share the same passion for equality as he did. We discussed the importance of employee resource groups and the company's efforts to make Raytheon Technologies a great place for all employees to work, grow and belong - a place where acceptance is the norm.
The importance of ERGs
Every employee has a different experience when it comes to balancing their personal and professional lives. One common thread among many LGBTQ+ employees we talked to is the significant role ERGs play in helping them balance theirs.
From providing support to those coming out, to creating a space where individuals can discuss similar life experiences and find mentorship, to pushing for change like the inclusion of personal pronouns in communications, ERGs play a critical role in developing a company where everyone can bring their whole selves to work.
To date, Raytheon Technologies offers three main LGBTQ+ ERGs that are made up of many different chapters.
'I did know that there was an LGBTQ+-themed employee resource group, but I never really got involved. But I had some things that were going on in my personal life; I was at a point where I was like, 'Yeah, I want to see if there is a pool of people that I could socialize with, that are more like me, that I have more in common with,'' said Kris Schlemmer, an engineering director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business.
'Now that we're seeing Raytheon Technologies come together, some of the new initiatives, some of the new faces we're getting, it's a very exciting time for the ERGs.'
The perfect workplace for equality
Raytheon Technologies was recently awarded a perfect '100' rating by the Human Rights Campaign for corporate equality. As a leading advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, HRC recognized Raytheon Technologies as one of the best places to work thanks to the company's assurance for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in the workplace.
'Each June, as we celebrate and uplift our LGBTQ+ employees during Pride Month, we are reminded of the tremendous impact they have on our company and in the communities where we work, serve and earn,' said Marie Sylla-Dixon, Raytheon Technology's chief diversity officer.
'This year, Raytheon Technologies is proud to commit its support to HRC in Brandon Power's honor; we pledge to do our part to strengthen and support the LGBTQ+ community and advance the cause of justice to ensure every individual - regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity - experiences equity and equality.'
The company has pledged to support HRC's efforts to champion inclusion, equality and understanding by becoming a platinum corporate member.
How acceptance makes us a better company
To create an innovative environment where some of the world's toughest problems are solved, Raytheon Technologies encourages everyone to be fully involved in the conversation.
'When you are your authentic self at work, you are more productive, more creative. You are open to share ideas with others and have that exchange of 'How can we do things better?'' said Carlos Lugo, associate director for the Engineering Mold Center at Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business. 'I think that opens us, everybody, to feel that we can be seen and heard and most importantly, respected for what we bring to work.'
The company's goal is to build an environment where people can be as they are without feeling they have to explain themselves.
'Now, I don't come out to anybody. I will just be out, and it's up to them how they deal with it,' said Lisa Parker, quality manager at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business. 'I can't stress enough how important it is to be your authentic self and to be out at work and not worry about anyone else and what they think about it.'