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JPL Commits to First-Ever Space Industry Diversity Pledge

Interim Director Larry James joined 22 executives in a commitment to significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups by 2030.

Published on Thursday, April 14, 2022 | 2:46 pm
Inclusion is a JPL core value. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Twenty-three space industry executives, including Larry James, interim director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, gathered at the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on April 5 to pledge their commitment to advancing diversity across the collective workforce in coming years.

The executives signed the “Space Workforce 2030” pledge, the first-ever space industry commitment of its kind to “significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups.” Each company will agree to annual reporting of data on diversity in our collective technical workforce, a regular cadence of exchanges of best practices, and work with universities to increase the number of diverse and underrepresented students graduating ready to join the space industry.

“We’re excited to be a part of this industry initiative and continuing to lead the way in growing our diverse and inclusive workforce,” said James. “We know that these qualities lead to stronger teams and innovative solutions – key things we need here at JPL as we tackle the toughest challenges in science and engineering.”

Cozette Hart, JPL’s director for human resources, is proud of JPL’s partnership in this effort.

“We’ve shared JPL DEI data in our annual report, so the unification and commitment of our industry to broaden this work is an extremely positive step for all of us,” said Hart.

Neela Rajendra, the Lab’s manager of diversity, equity, and inclusion, acknowledged the importance of being part of a cohort of other aerospace organizations where companies can identify trends and learn from each other.

“This is industry-specific and even more powerful,” she said. “There’s a recognition that if we can advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for the industry as a whole, we’ll all benefit from it.”

Collaboration also helps JPL refine its diversity focus areas as the Lab continues to develop its strategic plan, Rajendra added.

By signing the pledge, the companies vow to accomplish the following by 2030:

• Significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups in our collective technical workforce.
• Significantly increase the number of women and employees from underrepresented groups who hold senior leadership positions in our collective technical workforce.
• Work with universities to increase the percentages of women and students from underrepresented groups receiving aerospace engineering degrees to levels commensurate with overall engineering programs.
• Sponsor K-12 programs that collectively reach over 5 million underrepresented students annually.
• Meet twice a year at the working level to exchange best practices on strengthening diversity recruitment, STEM education outreach, and representation at leadership levels.
• Seek like-minded leaders and organizations to join this effort.

“This effort links to the DEI recruitment efforts already in place at JPL,” shared Hart. “In partnership with these companies and our universities, colleges, and organizations such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), etc., we will be implementing even more opportunities for current and potential employees in the future.”

“Essentially, we’re committing to continuing the focus on our talent pipeline and really supporting future employees,” said Rajendra. “It’s about ensuring that all students and future talent have the opportunity to join the technical fields in aerospace regardless of background, socioeconomic status, or self-identity.”

Find the full list of “Space Workforce 2030” signatories below:

• Roy Azevedo, president of Raytheon Intelligence & Space
• Payam Banazadeh, CEO at Capella Space
• Peter Beck, CEO at Rocket Lab
• Tory Bruno, CEO at United Launch Alliance
• Jim Chilton, senior VP of Space & Launch at Boeing
• Michael Colglazier, CEO at Virgin Galactic
• Eileen Drake, CEO and president of AeroJet Rocketdyne
• Tim Ellis, CEO at Relativity Space
• John Gedmark, CEO at Astranis Space Technologies
• Steve Isakowitz, CEO at The Aerospace Corporation
• Larry James, acting director at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• Daniel Jablonsky, CEO at Maxar Technologies
• Dave Kaufman, president of Ball Aerospace
• Chris Kemp, CEO at Astra
• Robert Lightfoot, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space
• Will Marshall, CEO at Planet
• Dan Piemont, president of ABL Space Systems
• Peter Platzer, CEO at Spire Global
• John Serafini, CEO at HawkEye 360
• Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX
• Melanie Stricklan, CEO at Slingshot Aerospace
• Amela Wilson, CEO at Nanoracks
• Tom Wilson, president of Space Systems at Northrop Grumman

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