Diversity and Inclusion team members from Lockheed Martin were special guests on i4cp’s October 13, 2020 D&I Action Call. Serving as guest facilitator was Cheryl Kern, Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion Corporate COE at Lockheed Martin. Her guests were colleagues Fran Dillard, Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Equal Opportunity Programs; and Riley Folds, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Lockheed Martin Rotary Mission Systems. The discussion presented insights and experiences related to Lockheed Martin’s D&I initiatives during the pandemic.
Key Ideas Shared Today:
- Listen first, think outside the box, and be authentic. With a desire to lead and respond differently during the pandemic and in response to social unrest, says Folds, his team used a listen-before-acting strategy. That listening applied to employees, business resource groups (BRGs), and company leaders.
“Then we acted with courage and asked people to bring their authentic selves to conversations,” Folds notes, adding that “this was the time to embrace and model those ideas.” That began with a call on which employees could express their feelings about the George Floyd killing. When leaders felt discomfort about handling employee comments constructively, the D&I team created toolkits to help leaders navigate difficult conversations. HR business partners were leveraged to provide additional support. The result was conversations in which individuals could be authentic and share their stories with co-workers and leaders.
- Leverage the power of BRGs. Dillard says another strategy that has helped Lockheed Martin employees during the pandemic is involvement of BRGs. In particular, she says, the Parents at Lockheed, or PAL, group has provided meaningful support to employees with children at home. The BRG has helped to create tips and tools designed to aid those parents in meeting the demands of work while also caring for, and home schooling, their children.
The company’s African-American resource group also stepped up to aid nationwide with responses to social unrest. The group helped facilitate discussions that aimed to build greater understanding of the feelings of Black employees. D&I coaches stationed at Lockheed Martin locations across the U.S. also are supporting ongoing discussions and efforts to further enhance the company’s inclusive culture.
- The right leadership mindset is important. Having the right leadership mindset about how Lockheed Martin would navigate the pandemic also proved important, Dillard says. That meant a willingness to put into action a commitment to greater flexibility for employees. In particular, that involved a focus on schedule flexibility, and the company implemented a 4/10 schedule.
Shifting schedules during a chaotic pandemic was challenging, says Dillard. “But we really wanted to optimize flexibility for our employees. We implemented a Monday – Thursday schedule in which people would work 10 hours a day with Fridays off.” The change also afforded maximum flexibility about how people achieved 40 work hours during the week. Terming the shift “hugely successful,” Dillard says an employee survey found 85% of workers affirming that the scheduling was a “great change” that made their lives easier.
- Allyship is engaging people to drive change. “I’ve not seen this level of allyship before in my career in D&I,” says Dillard. She says that her team and others at Lockheed Martin have worked to build allies, to help people understand what allyship is, and identified people interested in participating.
Company leaders have become involved, too, she explains, adding that “Leadership engagement around this initiative has never been more impactful than it is today. Nobody can prepare for what we’ve all been through, but when you have the kind of diversity and inclusion infrastructure that Lockheed Martin already had in place, it helped us to quickly ramp up our efforts and get tools out. This isn’t easy and we’re not perfect, but we’ve been able to make good progress at operating in this new reality.”
Also on the call:
- An instant poll asked call attendees how their organizations were responding to the recent executive order against “divisive concepts” in federally funded D&I programs. Multiple answers were accepted, and top responses were these:
- 36% We are still discussing with legal counsel
- 21% We are reviewing program content
- 21% No change – no government contracts
- A second poll, suggested by a question posed in the meeting’s chat function, asked how attendees were communicating with employees about unconscious bias. Responses to the three offered options:
- 48% Proactively reaching out
- 35% Responding to inquiries
- 17% Other
Access a recording of the full D&I Action Call on i4cp’s Employer Resource Center.