How an inclusive workplace supports Leidos families
Throughout her five years working as a network operations technician at Leidos, Michedolene “Mikki" Hogan has seen first-hand how diversity is about more than meeting ethical or legal requirements. Having a diverse workforce, she explains, is better for everyone.
“Just recently I was on a troubleshooting call with a bunch of engineers who were speaking in very technical terms and didn't know how to communicate with our end-user, who was not a technical person," she explains. “But there was also a very personable female engineer on that call who was able to understand this person's struggles and the stress he was feeling. She turned that call around completely."
As a spotlight speaker at Leidos Diversity Champion's 'Collaboration Event' on the 17th of August, Hogan will talk about the insight into the importance of diversity in the workplace that she's gained through her experience as a woman in the male-dominated technology industry. But, as she explains, it's her life outside of work, as a mother of two children with developmental disabilities, that has been the main driver in her enthusiasm for helping to create a more inclusive workplace.
“Watching them trying to be involved in school activities as children, and being put to the side because they don't perform the same as their peers, made it so clear to me that it's important to respect our differences," she explains. “It's crucial we acknowledge that while you might learn very differently from me, or you might communicate very differently than me, your value is equal to mine."
It's this belief in the importance of supporting people with a variety of different workplace needs that drew her to Leidos and the company's flexible working policies, which ensure all employees have the freedom to fit their work around familial obligations or their own mental and physical health needs.
“I'm a caregiver for my mom who has dementia, but because I work remotely, I can be there for her if she needs support," Hogan says. "Or if I need a mental health day, I can just reach out to senior leadership to ask for one. I feel very confident in Leidos' commitment to helping employees juggle their work and personal lives."
Still, building an inclusive workplace is about more than just company policies. Mentoring relationships among employees, whether formal or informal, are particularly crucial to help people find their way in a technical field like network operations.
“It can be very overwhelming at first with all the new concepts you face, and that can cause a burnout pretty quickly," Hogan explains. “You could spend ages reading articles and trying to figure things out for yourself, but having someone who already has this knowledge and wants to encourage and teach you makes that process so much easier."
As vital as mentorship can be in helping diverse employees adapt to a new field, Hogan points out that the value of mentoring structures is also hugely strengthened by the diversity of the mentors.
“I always tell new hires that they shouldn't always go to one person for advice because there are eight of us on my team, and we all approach our jobs differently," she says. “The most powerful thing you can do is to reach out to multiple people to learn from their different perspectives and viewpoints because that's how you're going to improve yourself overall."