Inspiration through experience: A look at our women’s employee resource group

RTX WISE seeks equity through education, allyship, executive development

A senior vice president at her old company had resigned, and she’d been asked to step up and fill in.

“I said, ‘Sure, I’ll be the good soldier. I’ll do the work, and people will notice,’” she said.

Only they didn’t. After doing the job for a year – and after receiving assurances she was doing well – her managers told her there was no chance she’d get the role permanently.

“If you look objectively at how I performed, I had done well, but the leaders didn’t view me as strategic enough,” Foley said. “I ended up moving on. I couldn’t stay somewhere I didn’t feel seen or valued.”

Today, Foley works at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business, where she is the executive director of digital technology for program execution. She is also the chair of RTX WISE, the company’s employee resource group for women. And she is using experiences from her own career to inform the group’s goals as they advocate for women across the company and create equitable opportunities for career growth.

A focus on change

RTX WISE, or Women Inspiring Success and Empowerment, is part of Raytheon Technologies’ commitment to strengthening inclusion, creating equitable opportunities and retaining skilled employees amid high demand for talent in the industry. The group’s goals include:

Icon showing a community of people

Educating employees about gender issues at work

icon depicting patents

Helping women executives prepare to serve on nonprofit and public boards of directors

Icon showing two hands shaking

Engaging men as allies for women

Icon depicting calandar

Planning and delivering a series of events across the company to advance the group’s mission

Representation matters

RTX WISE enables women to “come together collectively to focus on issues that pertain to our population,” said the group’s co-chair, Nicole Terry.

“Women are unique in that we’re intersectional,” said Terry, using a term for the idea that people often identify with multiple societal groups depending on factors such as gender and race. “We’re very powerful. Our differences strengthen our voices to be heard in a way that will push change forward.” 

Creating change includes recognizing that “sometimes, women of color are left out of the conversation,” said Terry, an associate director of sustainment operations management in military engines at Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business. “As a whole, we want to make sure we are impacting women. But there are also subsets within that group we want to focus on. With that comes making sure everyone’s voice is heard – that’s how you get to the inclusion part.”

Another important goal: building an ally base with men. 

“From a management and executive perspective, it is predominantly male, so we need male allies,” Terry said. “We need them to understand, and we need to educate them on our experiences as women so they can be allies in the rooms women are not in or not represented in.”

In addition to the group’s specific priorities, it also maintains a core mission as a resource for women across the company to discover career paths, meet colleagues and learn from one another. 

“The women’s employee resource group is so diverse – from a gender, race, career, veteran status perspective,” Terry said. “Some are mothers, some are not. All these different things and more that go into being a woman, and what that might look like for you, are important.”

“Being involved just opens up different worlds for you, and what I’ve learned is that networking really is the key,” she said. “You can be a great worker, but if you don’t have people advocating for you, you may not get as far as you want from a career perspective.”

A woman wearing a reddish-orange top, strands of pearls and tortoise shell eyeglasses poses for a professional photograph

“Women are unique in that we’re intersectional. We’re very powerful. Our differences strengthen our voices to be heard in a way that will push change forward.”

Nicole Terry | Co-Chair | RTX WISE

Changing perspectives

For Foley, who eventually took a more senior position at her old company, the disappointment of being passed over for that promotion early in her career is now a source of motivation. Specifically, it makes her want to work against gender bias – or the ways that organizations, rules and norms put women at a disadvantage.

In her case, she believes pursuing the promotion more aggressively – or even assuming it was already hers – might have helped. But it also would have been out of character.

“A lot of the focus has been on trying to change the women,” she said, “rather than looking at systems and culture and examining why different styles can’t also progress and be successful.”

“That’s where my focus is,” she said, referring to both gender bias and her vision for the employee resource group. “Strategically, how do we create lasting change?”

Diane Foley, chair of the RTX ASPIRE employee resource group, speaks during a panel at the company’s Employee Resource Group Leadership Summit

“A lot of the focus has been on trying to change the women rather than looking at systems and culture and examining why different styles can’t also progress and be successful.”

Diane Foley | Chair | RTX WISE