For Raytheon Technologies, disability inclusion is ‘a journey that has no end’

When it comes to building a culture of inclusion for employees with disabilities, Raytheon Technologies has a lot in place – and even more in the works.

Across the company, advocates are working to make facilities, information and technology more accessible. They’re encouraging employees with disabilities to self-identify. And they’re working to ensure representation and advocacy all the way to the C-suite. Those measures, along with many others, have earned Raytheon Technologies the best possible score on the Disability Equality Index, a benchmarking tool issued annually by the nonprofit Disability:IN.

The work doesn't stop there. In fact, advocates say, it never does.

“We’re moving in the right direction on a journey that has no end,” said DC Foster, president of the Raytheon Alliance for Diverse Abilities, one of three resource groups within the company for employees with disabilities. “We’re always going to be striving to have an ever more inclusive culture for all people, and when Disability:IN gives us a high score, it lets us know we’re doing some things right.”

Some of those things, according to the company’s scorecard, include:

    • Centralized funds for disability accommodations. Those accommodations include screen readers, American Sign Language translation services, facilities access for service animals and specialized office equipment.
    • Having at least one senior executive known within the company as an advocate for employees with disabilities and having disability inclusion as a factor in executives’ performance evaluations.
    • Measures to ensure digital accessibility. This includes auditing digital content to make sure it is accessible, following best practices to apply Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, also called WCAG 2.1, and training developers of the company’s external and internal websites.
    • Flexible work options, including full-time and part-time remote work for jobs that can be performed off-site and the ability to work at different hours if compatible with job duties.
    • Encouraging employees with disabilities to self-identify.

Self-identification, in particular, is critical, Foster said, because it can help the company better allocate its resources. If, for example, self-identification data showed that a given location had a particularly high percentage of employees who use wheelchairs, that could inform plans to redesign the site for better access.

“That’s a very clear demand signal. A business case. A case for action,” Foster said. Additionally, he said, the company is factoring for disabilities in broad initiatives such as its “office of the future” planning – a rethinking of facilities after more than a year of widespread remote work. That includes improvements in both physical accessibility as well as digital and IT accessibility.

“When you come into the office, it will be completely accessible from a physical standpoint and fully enabled from a remote work standpoint,” he said, pointing to measures like real-time closed captioning for virtual meetings, which will eliminate barriers to information-sharing for employees with hearing loss.

“If a segment of our population gets information right away and another segment of our population has to wait for no good reason, it creates a different experience,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create a good common experience for all employees.”