We live in a world where ongoing, groundbreaking innovations are the expectation. For Northrop Grumman, they form the front lines of defense for our warfighters, homes and allies.
But how do we ensure the regular delivery of radical solutions that advance our collective knowledge and impact? Some say time, others cite money, but I argue that this power resides in our people. Put simply, diverse perspectives are the starting point for truly radical thinking.
Making a Difference
In my lifetime, I’ve only known environments where I was considered different: competitive classrooms among advanced placement (AP) and honors students, basketball courts with male pickup players and even the manufacturing and tooling labs of my college campus. In those same AP and honors classrooms, my participation exposed kids to a world that some never knew existed. Today, many of those students are productive adults who may have a greater ability to see the world through a slightly different lens.
I’ve also gained new perspectives because of them. On the basketball court, the 6-foot-2 guys had no defense for my low dribble, and that same quick dribble prompted many assists to other players who still take pride in the games won on those evening courts. And I will never forget the day a bobby pin — my bobby pin — prevented a student’s serious accident while working on an industrial machine in my collegiate engineering lab. The machine’s “off” button became stuck, and the small, thin structure of that pin made it just the right size and shape to maneuver in and toggle the button.
There’s always slight discomfort with anything that’s different from what we know because we all have an innate desire to relate — and that’s OK to admit. What’s not OK is when we close off the opportunity to become better together by letting our differences become barriers rather than laying the groundwork for greater good.
Soft Skills, Tangible Benefits
Diverse perspectives also encompass “soft skills.” Think: adaptability in a changing world, compassion, empathy, approachability, quick wit and thoughtfulness in our thinking and actions. The diversity of these skills is critical to consider challenges from every possible angle and create truly radical solutions.
This is the benefit of seeing staff as whole people rather than just as employees. While technical skills can be taught and evaluated using specific criteria, soft skills rely on human-to-human interaction to flourish. By giving staff the ability to lean into what makes them different — what makes them unique — we can derive the tangible benefits needed for sustained business growth.
My path continues to make me a better human first and a much more valuable employee by extension. Helping others feel confident in their differences is what drives me to advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives in both my workplace and in life. Sure, there have been battle scars along the path of encouraging others to view differences as our collective strength, but that hasn’t stopped me yet — and it never will.
Let’s face it: We’re all strikingly similar and — simultaneously — fundamentally different. Leveraging the power of these differences is what takes us to a better tomorrow and makes our company and our workforce stronger. Put simply? To drive radical solutions, we need to start with diverse perspectives.
By Meyonka Gray, Systems Engineer, Strike
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