Radical Solutions Come From the Strength of Our Differences

We live in a world where it is imperative to create products that are groundbreaking — in our case, for the safety of our warfighter, home and allies.

So how do we guarantee we can provide the most radical solutions with the resources we have? Some would say time, others would cite money, but I argue the power resides in our people. People and the diversity of their backgrounds can take us where we need to go.

In my lifetime, I have only known environments where I was considered different: competitive classrooms among advanced placement (AP) and honors students, basketball courts with male pickup players, even the manufacturing and tooling labs of my college campus. There’s slight discomfort with anything that is different from what we know because we have an innate desire to relate and be comfortable. That’s OK to admit. What is not OK is when we close off the opportunity to become better together by not focusing our differences toward the greater good.

In those same AP and honors classrooms, my participation exposed kids to a world that some of them never knew existed. Today, those students are productive adults who, through that experience, may have a greater ability to see the world through a slightly different lens. I, too, am able to see another point of view because of them. On the basketball court, the 6-foot-2 guys had no defense for my low dribble. But 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 was maneuvered in to toggle the button.

Engineering and Technical Professionals Benefit From Soft Skills

These small wins, or support roles, are much like the soft skills and prowess we all need to succeed: adaptability to a changing world, compassion and empathy — especially to our customers — approachability, quick wit, thoughtfulness in our thinking and actions … the list goes on. Technical skill can always be hired. It’s those soft skills that are still very rare, yet so necessary, to develop the radical solutions needed for our business growth.

Advocating for Diversity and Inclusion

My path continues to make me a better human first, and a much more valuable employee. Helping others have awareness and feel confident is what drives me to advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and in life. Sure, there have been battle scars along the path of encouraging others to view my differences as our collective strength. This hasn’t stopped the show, and it never will. I emerge more resilient.

“Helping others have awareness and feel confident is what drives me to advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and in life.”

Let’s face it: We are all different from one another within generations, gender and race. Leveraging the power of our differences is what will take us to a better tomorrow and make our company and our workforce stronger.

By Meyonka Gray, Systems Engineer, Strike


Are you interested in a fulfilling career in an organization that values diversity and inclusion? Check out our career areas to find the right fit for you.

Return to Life at Northrop Grumman home page.