Originally published at rtx.com. Raytheon Technologies ranked No. 41 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.
All of a sudden, everything was new for Sarah Lincoln.
It was January of 2006. She’d started a new job at the former Raytheon Company and moved from sunny New Mexico to snowy Massachusetts. New climate, new company, new culture — and she wasn’t sure any of it fit.
She shared that uncertainty with her manager, who knew she was of Navajo and Pueblo heritage and suggested she join the company’s employee resource group for Indigenous people.
“I did, and 16 years later, I’m still here,” said Lincoln, a Senior Manager in Talent Management at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business. “The reason I’m here is truly the employee resource groups, and this one in particular.”
Today, Lincoln is working to provide colleagues with the same sense of belonging she found years ago. She is now the chair of RTX RAIN, Raytheon Technologies’ newly reorganized employee resource group for Indigenous people and allies. That group, along with eight similar organizations that represent communities across the employee population, is a key part of Raytheon Technologies’ commitment to strengthening its culture of inclusion.
A Goal to Grow
One of the group’s first goals is to grow its ranks — and that requires showing employees what it does, and how to join. Lincoln and co-chair Thomas Reed are planning a tour of company sites in the U.S. to that effect.
“We want Indigenous employees to feel like they’re not only welcome — but to feel their vision is valued at the company,” said Reed, a Principal Electrical Engineer at Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
Communicating that message will help retain Indigenous employees and attract new hires as well, he said.
“We can show to prospective employees and new college hires that this is a place where they can still live their culture, return home for their religious events if they need to, and have family as an important part of their lives,” he said.
Supporting professional development is another top goal. RAIN is hosting “personal branding” training, where members receive advice on how to better position themselves for promotions and better assignments. Those sessions help instill confidence in members who have a cultural tendency to hold back.
“We have this Indigenous community that is very humble and respectful to their leaders as a cultural aspect — but when you have to merge that culture with corporate culture, then maybe those people don’t advance,” said Reed. “So this is a good way to help our Indigenous employees brand themselves and move up if they want to in the company.”
The group also encourages members to embrace their Indigenous identity through voluntary self-identification with Raytheon Technologies. Self-identification, which helps the company assess and serve various employee populations, also marks an important personal milestone, Reed said.
“For some of our diverse employees or unrepresented employees, they don’t self-identify or want to be involved with diversity, equity and inclusion because they don’t want to be labeled a diverse employee and have that detract from their work,” said Reed. “I was like that. It took me a lot of years to figure out that I was OK just how I was. Everybody is on their own journey.”
Why It Matters
For Lincoln, her early experiences continue to drive her as the head of RTX RAIN. It’s important for employees to feel comfortable and included, especially when they’re working with people who have backgrounds different from theirs.
“There can be a spotlight on you to represent that perspective well,” said Lincoln of feeling like the only person like her in a room. “It’s tough in terms of being held to a certain standard, and at times, being able to make mistakes and knowing that you might stand out.”