June is Pride Month, and Maxar’s MaxPride Employee Resource Group (ERG) is organizing activities throughout the month to celebrate the contributions of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community. To reflect on the celebration, we spoke to Robyn DeBray and Alicia Williams, two members of the MaxPride Leadership Committee.

Robyn DeBray, left, and Alicia Williams, right, help support Maxar’s Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) efforts through their leadership in the MaxPride ERG.

Q: In addition to being MaxPride leaders, what do you both do at Maxar?

Alicia: I’m a Geospatial Sales Engineer in the Earth Intelligence business segment, working closely with commercial customers to find ways to use our industry-leading geospatial products to help solve complex problems.

Robyn: I’m a Supervisor of Transition Management on the Transition and Transformation team. I work closely with Operations teams across multiple parts of the Earth Intelligence business segment to ensure they successfully understand and deploy new technologies, processes and products that we roll out.

Q: What does Pride Month mean to you?

Alicia: For me, Pride Month serves as a reminder to love and embrace one’s true self, regardless of societal norms, and to strive for equal rights and representation for all. It is a time to celebrate our identities and how far we have come, but to also acknowledge the ongoing challenges that the LGBTQ+ community faces in the fight for full equality. People may not know that Pride Month takes place in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York. Police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, and one of the first people to stand up was a Black trans woman named Marsha P. Johnson. Pride Month is a time to reflect on the individuals who made an impact on the equal rights movement, like Marsha P. Johnson, Harvey Milk and countless others.

Robyn: I echo that. Pride Month gives many the opportunity and space to celebrate being true to themselves and to the people they choose to share themselves with, as well as accepting others and showing compassion. Celebration, history, openness and resilience are words that come to mind when I think of Pride Month.

Q: Can you tell us more about the MaxPride ERG and why it is important?

Robyn: MaxPride provides a safe space for community, kindness, compassion and fun. Having a group like this available in the workplace builds connection among employees and helps members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies feel engaged and understood. I’ve experienced that personally. I left Maxar for a brief period in 2019, before MaxPride existed. When I returned, I learned about MaxPride, and I joined the Slack channel and started participating. I was happy to be back with my team at Maxar, but this addition of a safe space and community made me feel even better about the decision to return. I have met great people through the ERG—colleagues I might never have met otherwise.

Alicia: MaxPride has a significantly positive impact on both the company and the LGBTQ+ employees at Maxar. As Robyn mentioned, it provides a safe space for employees to discuss challenges or concerns, it promotes awareness and education on LGBTQ+ topics and issues, and it fosters an inclusive and diverse work environment, which attracts and retains top talent.

Q: Robyn, you mentioned allies. What advice would you give to those who want to be better allies?

Robyn: Ask questions openly and with kindness. Then, truly listen to the response without judgment, without feeling sorry and without trying to make my experiences about you. Being transgender, I have been asked a lot of questions throughout my transition and have always felt safe when responding because of the vulnerability and genuineness of the ally asking the questions. Also, using the correct pronouns and names that others request is a very impactful way to be a strong ally.

Alicia: I’d underscore that forging an alliance is not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing commitment to lifting the LGBTQ+ community in all aspects of life. Understanding different identities and the obstacles that individuals encounter is critical in fostering a more inclusive world. As Robyn said, a good starting place is to use inclusive, gender-neutral language and steer clear of any derogatory terms, all while being an empathetic listener. If someone tells you a word or action is offensive, just apologize and don’t do that anymore.

Robyn: Couldn’t agree more. Companies must act on that front, too. For example, standing up ERGs, having involved executives and building dedicated diversity and inclusion functions all play a critical role in fostering inclusion. Tech industries—aerospace and geospatial industries included—continue to advance because of the hardworking people on their teams. When employees feel safe and accepted, more ideas and perspectives start flowing.

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