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Bolstering Engagement through

Employee Networks
By Robert Powers
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Textron Systems Corporation

Recruiting and re- From a business standpoint, employee networks
taining the best talent is are critical to keeping people interested, engaged, and
a business imperative— feeling valued. For all of these reasons, the Textron
setting up a tug-of-war in Systems executive leadership team considers employee
which companies target the same finite resources to fill networks and resource groups key elements of the
key positions. This is particularly true in the defense company’s employee engagement strategy.
industry, where Textron Systems is constantly on the Our strategy focuses on affiliations that are com-
lookout for people with the right skills and experience monly shared around our businesses. The groups
to help us create the high-technology products and ser- are chartered and supported by the diversity coun-
vices that America’s troops rely upon. cils seated at each of our operating units, and
Achieving this imperative requires a multifaceted currently include:
approach, including compensation and benefits, • A young professionals group at our Wilmington,
advancement and educational opportunities, work Massachusetts, headquarters—also home of our
environment, and employee engagement. Textron Defense Systems operating unit.
Traditionally, employee activities used to be informal • A women’s network at our Austin, Texas,
and localized; for example, softball or bowling leagues. Overwatch headquarters, along with a military
Today’s employee networks and resource groups veterans network, which is particularly apropos
address the many other areas in which colleagues share because more than 25 percent of employees at
common interests and backgrounds. They build a sense this operating unit are veterans.
of community and connectedness beyond the inherent • A women’s network at the Hunt Valley,
mission of the company, as well as provide employees Maryland, headquarters of operating unit AAI
and leaders the opportunity to communicate across all Corporation.
levels and functions of the business.
If the work environment is an extension of one’s Additionally, similar networks are being planned
personal life, that is a valuable “gotcha” point. Engaged across various sites. The meetings I have attended have
employees are the company’s best champions for a palpable energy. People are excited to share their
a diverse, inclusive culture, as well as for recruiting ideas and enthusiasm for the business and its contin-
like-minded talent. In addition, the groups themselves ued success.
have an impactful presence on fellow employees, The template for these groups is simple—give
driving the messages of diversity and positive change colleagues the chance to come together from all areas
across an organization more effectively than any policy of the business, based on topics of mutual interest.
or process. The employee engagement benefits unfold from
Informal mentorships also spring from resource there. What’s good for our employees is good for our
groups. These relationships are a vital source of business—and when we do our jobs well, the good
information-sharing, as well as an opportunity for pro- extends to our ultimate customers, America’s men and
fessional growth and development of leadership skills. women in uniform. PDJ

64 Pro f i les i n D i ve rsit y Journal M aY / J u n e 2 0 1 0