Starting something new can sometimes be intimidating, exciting, and a full range of emotions in between. When I recently began my position as the Director of Human Resources for Voyager Space, I took some time to reflect on the weight of the position and the importance of my voice coming into the space industry. I have frequently paused in my professional career to learn and immerse myself with knowledge and understanding on what it means to work for the people in a company while representing the mission and vision of the organization. Human Resources is an amazing field that pushes a person’s understanding of what it means to be part of an organization but also tasked with building and enhancing the culture to which many other people will call their own. As I settled into my first few weeks of meetings at Voyager, I came to the realization that I was given an amazing and very specific opportunity to incite a system of diversity and inclusion in an industry that is predominantly White and even more dominantly male.
As a minority woman myself, I try to include the values and vision I love in my work and interactions while also respecting the opinions of every member of our team and portfolio. As a company, we speak about culture and what it means to share knowledge and increase our diversity to ensure an inclusive way of thinking. Representation and outreach are critical to enhancing a culture where few minorities or women are present. I cannot ask a minority teenager to see the benefit of our work if she sees few people that look like her. I am happy to be a voice for the call to a better culture. But what does that mean? What does an inclusive and diverse culture look like in an industry that hasn’t traditionally catered to women or minority populations? How do I call my company to push the envelope with inclusion to bridge the gap so new pools of talent gain access to an amazing industry of careers? Where do we even start?
It seems to me that you can only start at the beginning. Middle school and high school aged children will develop an interest in what they hope to do for a career in their adolescent years. If there aren’t engineers, physicists, or astronauts at their career fairs or offering internship programs, how do they learn what is out there? Who else to show them then the individuals that fell in love with the work themselves? We cannot begin to change the face of our industry or the diversity in our companies without reaching the generation to come. And then what you may say? The teenager knows what it means to work in space, that doesn’t mean they end up in my office to interview.
But what if, when I met that teenager, I connected them with a mentor that was interested in being a resource for questions or educational programs in the area to learn more and engage more? What if, I checked in on them every few months to see how they were doing and if there was anything they needed? What if, we invested in those students the way a coach invests in an athlete with superior talent? What if, I recruited individuals that I knew wanted to learn and grow to pilot new training and educational programs to feed talent into the industry? What if, I took time to analyze my employee base data and identify gaps with diversity right away? What if I offered training and education around working with diverse populations and infusing inclusion into everything we do?
I know what you may be thinking, that’s a lot of investment into someone who may not end up at your company but that of a competitor. But doesn’t the education and advancement of the next generation benefit all of us who will be left in their care in fifty years? Doesn’t it benefit us to fuel the minds of the future with encouragement and opportunity, instead of waiting to see if they can do it on their own? Doesn’t it benefit your company culture to invest in who they are and show appreciation from their experiences in life? I certainly think so.
We at Voyager Space value the difference of every voice and experience in the room. We value the barriers we faced along the way, and we appreciate the effort it took to push through. I am excited for the future of engineers and explorers that are just learning to read or experiencing the trials and tribulations of adolescence. I am excited to see our future push the limits of space exploration and innovate the way we see our planet and how we utilize the vast resources of space. No one company can do it alone and I am excited to invite our partners to support our mission of calling everyone to the amazing journey beyond!
Learn more about Voyager’s programs to engage the next generation of explorers.