Helping employees lead and thrive: A look at our Asian Pacific Islander employee resource group

Santosh Jois had just emigrated from India to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. And he had a lot of learning to do.


On top of his studies, he found, he also had to acquaint himself with American football – a popular topic of discussion on a Big Ten campus, and a sure way to strike up a conversation with his new colleagues and peers.

“The small-talk culture is very big here in the U.S. It’s not so much back in Asia,” said Jois, a senior principal engineer at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business. “Having that icebreaker type stuff to start a conversation with ... it took me a while before I could come up to speed with that.”

Fifteen or so years later, he realizes it would have helped to have a cultural bridge – someone of a similar background who could suggest ways to adapt culturally and navigate the immigration process.

“Going through an immigration process felt a little limiting to make certain career transitions,” said Jois. “I felt a need to reach out to someone to understand the public policies that existed and to reach out to other people who have been through similar situations. There weren’t as many people I could go to.”

Now, that experience is what drives him as operations chair of RTX ASPIRES, Raytheon Technologies’ employee resource group for Asian Pacific Islander employees. A year after launching as a newly reorganized, companywide community, the group has developed a variety of initiatives to enable Raytheon Technologies’ Asian Pacific Islander employees to work, grow and belong.

Focused on the whole employee

RTX ASPIRES, Raytheon Technologies’ Asian Pacific Islander employee resource group, is part of the company’s  commitment to strengthening inclusion and creating equitable opportunities for employees. The group’s key initiatives include:

Growing the curriculum of the company’s Skills Enhancement and Employee Development program for Asian Pacific Islander employees

Collaborating with community partners on volunteering opportunities and public policy engagements related to the Asian Pacific Islander community

Providing members with opportunities for collaboration and networking, with one another and with senior leaders

Promoting the diversity of Asian Pacific Islanders and providing a voice for equity and inclusion to make Raytheon Technologies an employer of choice

Progress at work

RTX ASPIRES co-chair Arun Mukherjee has been with the group and its forerunners for more than 20 years, dating back to his first job at the former Raytheon Company in 2001. Today, he’s building on the progress he has helped drive over two decades.

That includes growing the company’s Skills Enhancement and Employee Development (SEED) program, a six-month program for mid-level employees that expanded across the company in its second session this year.

“There’s a very strong mentorship component to it,” said Mukherjee, an associate director of international sourcing for Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business. “It’s beneficial for all to understand: What are the concerns the mentee might be facing from an Asian Pacific Islander background?”

The group is also collaborating with other employee resource groups, such as RTX VETS, the company’s veterans and military family group, in an event to honor the service and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander veterans.

“We’re trying to show other aspects and not just focus on cultural festivals,” said Mukherjee. “We’re moving the needle there. It’s an ongoing process – it’s going to go on for years to come.”

For newer Asian and Pacific Islander employees, RTX ASPIRES is creating an employee resource guide and considering a mentor program for support and career guidance.

“We’re trying to provide pathways for growth to all API employees, regardless of their background. This can help bridge gaps that affect their career progression.”

Santosh Jois | Operations Chair | RTX ASPIRES

Finding strength in our stories

One year after the group’s launch, Mukherjee has seen RTX ASPIRES members come together, share their personal experiences and make connections. Discussing with each other the diversity in their stories – such as the different journeys he and Jois have taken – has made the group a stronger community, he said.

“I feel like we’re now an employee resource group that has a lot more diverse ideas and a lot more diverse concerns than in the past,” he said. “From that standpoint, we’re definitely more inclusive, more diverse – not just in people, but in ideas and issues we need to tackle. That’s an achievement.”

For Jois, his early experiences assimilating back in Michigan remain with him and inform the way he helps lead the group.

“I’d never seen an American football game before,” said Jois. “But just to make connections happen, I had to pick that up as a sport. Then I started loving it to the point where I’m a very big fan now. Go Blue!”

“This journey is going to continue – and continue for the better.”

Arun Mukherjee | Co-Chair | RTX ASPIRES