Throughout our 50-year history, Draper continues to expand its range of expertise. From inertial measurement to guidance, navigation, and control. From data analytics and machine learning to autonomous and perception software. From bioprocessing to organs on a chip.
Now Draper is applying the same commitment to diverse technology and research to our people.
Just over a year ago, we hired a new chief diversity officer, restructured our employee resource groups (ERGs), and created a new commitment to diversity, equity, or inclusion (DEI).
Anyone who knows Draper knows that we never settle for the standard approach to anything. So rather than apply a cookie-cutter version of DEI programming, we expanded and tailored our focus on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility – or as we like to call it: IDEA.
“We need inclusion to be first and foremost in everyone’s minds,” says Aisha Losche, Draper’s chief diversity officer. “An inclusive mindset leads to thinking of others in an empathetic way, which then leads to new perspectives and creates opportunity for innovation.”
An IDEA Worth Supporting
Innovation and technological advancements are integral to everything Draper does. To continue to excel in those areas, we need to recruit and retain the most talented and innovative people. That means Draper must be inclusive and supportive of people of all backgrounds and abilities.
Draper has plans to grow in the coming years, likely even doubling in size. It’s paramount that we continue to draw top talent and push the boundaries of science and technology. Our commitment to IDEA will help us meet that goal.
“The best and brightest come from all walks of life,” says Losche. “We need to make sure our people feel invested in it.”
A Systematic Approach
Like most work at Draper, we are taking a systematic and strategic approach to IDEA.
First, we are establishing our baselines. This includes auditing the organization in accordance with the highest standards, such as Disability:IN’s Disability Equality Index or the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
These baselines and indexes will allow us to track and monitor progress toward becoming a more inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible organization.
At the same time, Draper has restructured our ERGs. We have added new groups to better align with our diversity goals, and we have ensured each ERG has an executive sponsor and clearly identified leaders. Each ERG also worked with our design team to develop a unique logo and identity to enhance engagement and help build a sense of ownership of the group.
Draper has also implemented new policies and procedures to clarify our commitment to IDEA principles and made sure staff can easily find and access those policies. We aren’t just concerned about our own work either. We now have policies to confirm that our vendors and partners are committed to them, too.
Tied to our Mission
Accessibility statements are a common way for federal contractors to signal compliance with Section 508 standards , Draper takes it a step further, elevating accessibility as the fourth key component of our IDEA program.
We place a greater focus on accessibility, in part, due to our focus on ensuring national security and protecting our war fighters, as well as supporting veterans—Draper is proud to have been named a Gold-level Military Friendly Employer.
Roughly one in four U.S. veterans report having a service-connected [JG1] disability. It’s important to recognize that and accommodate the needs of veterans and others with disabilities, whether permanent or temporary.
“Discussing disabilities in the workplace has often been somewhat of a taboo,” says Losche. “We want our employees, applicants, and customers to know that we are taking real and impactful steps to ensure that all employees have the tools, access, and opportunities.”
As we move forward with IDEA, we will adapt and evolve our policies, procedures, and ERGs to continue meeting the needs of our growing staff. Flip though our 2023 Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Report below.