Page 8 - BEQ Magazine Iss 23 FINAL v3
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“We know that LGBTQ+ talent is out there, but   the agency’s five core values, and we were doing this
                              sometimes that community is embedded within   work before it was popular.”
                              a larger community,” Jackson said.  “Much of our   Jackson also made clear that inclusion is not
                              outreach has focused on looking to professional   just the right thing to do but a strategic imperative
                              associations, such as engineering or technical and   for NASA as “the ability to tap into different talents
                              science organizations, but that isn’t necessarily a   with different perspectives and experiences is how
                              direct  line  to  LGBTQ+  individuals  or  companies.   you innovate. This country is made up of a rich mix
                              We  are  cultivating  relationships  with  Historically   of people, and tapping into that richness is where the
                              Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic Serv-  innovation comes from.”
                              ing Institutions, but there aren’t LGBTQ+ univer-  “The one thing that we know, is that in order for
                              sities.”                                   us to achieve our goals – to get to the moon and to
                                 For Jackson, this just means a more creative and   Mars – we’ve got to innovate. How do you generate
                              concerted effort  – making connections with orga-  new ideas if you’re only talking to the same people
                              nizations (including the Business Equality Network   you’ve always talked to?”
                              and BEQ Pride Magazine) with links to the growing
                              number of networks of LGBTQ students, researchers,   LEVERAGING THE FULL REACH OF
                              and businesses that a traditional approach to locating   CURRENT PARTNERSHIPS
                              talent through professional associations and univer-
                              sities has not revealed.                     One metric of NASA’s success will be an increas-
                                                                         ingly diverse vendor base, but Jackson also described a
                              DIVERSITY IS THE FUEL OF                   strategy of leveraging current partnerships as a way to
                              INNOVATION                                 create an even wider-reaching, ripple effect of inclu-
                                                                         sion. “We’re trying to hold our large, traditional aero-
                                 While this particular initiative is new, Jackson   space partners accountable to our vision of inclusion
                              made clear that NASA has a long history of working   by requiring them to develop Diversity, Equity and
                              toward greater inclusion. “The very ethos of NASA is   Inclusion plans. We want them to have these plans
                              diversity and inclusion,” she said. “Inclusion is one of   both within their companies and within their subcon-
                                                                         tractor and vendor communities as well, identifying
                                                                         businesses from underserved communities.”
                                                                           Jackson added, “We want them to identify targets
                                                                         for spend, and then we’re going to hold them account-
                                                                         able in a surveillance posture to make sure that they
                                                                         actually do spend that money and they bring those
                                                                         companies along.”
                                                                            It doesn’t seem that compliance is anything that
                                                                         will have to be forced because, as Jackson notes, these
                                                                         companies are also acutely aware of the value of
                                                                         inclusion and the unsustainability of the status quo.
                                                                         “[Our traditional partners] are energized around the
                                                                         opportunity to see and get new talent. They under-
                                                                         stand that they need to open their aperture to get a
                                                                         wider variety, or else they’re just trading horses with
                                                                         what they already know.”

          8    SUMMER 2022                                                            BUSINESSEQUALITYMAGAZINE.COM
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