Most companies rebrand during one of their growth milestones, but a crucial step many organizations miss in the rebranding process is the opportunity to use said growth period to look inward and update things like core values and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to better reflect who they want to be moving forward. Doing so acknowledges the fact that DEI impacts every facet of a company—even its bottom line—and helps orgs see where they've improved and how they can continue to support their teams.
Ursa Major understood the assignment. Amid their latest rebrand, this aerospace company chose to prioritize DEI in a new way by kicking off a Diversity Council, a group of volunteer employees and leaders who will monitor Ursa Major's DEI trajectory. In an industry that struggles with representation, their continued focus on innovating in order to ensure all employees feel welcome might seem like one small step for DEI but it's one giant leap for women and underrepresented groups working in this field.
Marina Bagot, vice president of program management at Ursa Major, is one leader championing the company's new DEI vision. Hear from her why DEI remains a priority as Ursa Major propels into the future.
VP, Program Management at Ursa Major with 10 years of experience
Top three must-haves at work:
- Women in Leadership
- Support for Diversity
- Sense of Belonging
Ursa Major just went through a rebrand, and with that, the launch of your new Diversity Council. We’ll talk about that in a minute, but first, tell us what you do and your role in shaping Ursa Major’s culture.
I am the vice president of program management at Ursa Major. My team leads all internal propulsion programs and external customer contracts. We are ultimately responsible for ensuring our propulsion systems are successfully delivered to meet our customer’s mission needs. The program managers are influential leaders at our company. By running our programs and bringing together the technical teams to accomplish milestones, the PMs have a large influence on the expectations and culture of our company. We work together to ensure that we are cultivating a motivated, energetic, and inclusive culture where people collaborate to rise to difficult challenges. Additionally, as a member of the exec team at a small startup, I work closely with the other execs to shape the culture as we grow. It is very important to Ursa Major that we stay true to our culture, and continue to learn and improve, as the company matures and brings on more employees.
Now for the Diversity Council. Who’s in this group, what responsibilities will they have, and how will you measure their success?
The Diversity Council includes five volunteers from the company plus our HR business partner, technical recruiter, and myself as the liaison for the executive team. The responsibility of the Diversity Council is to review active DEI efforts and provide feedback, define and set priorities on upcoming DEI plans, and hold Ursa Major accountable for taking action and staying true to the Ursa DEI Vision Statement. They also act as advocates throughout the company to emphasize and encourage DEI efforts. The council includes representatives from many different teams and brings a diverse set of experiences, opinions, and preferences for what Ursa Major DEI efforts should include. This is the group the executive team relies on to make sure our efforts are making the most valuable impact to the company. We measure success against a set of six-month goals, which include discrete actions with tangible outcomes that can be reviewed. We currently have nine actions we are working on as a company, directed toward both engagement in the aerospace industry and tactics to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion within Ursa. A few examples include creating measurable metrics for recruiting people from underrepresented groups, getting involved as a company with earlier education programs for underrepresented communities, and establishing a clear and compelling mentorship program for all employees.
How do you see the Diversity Council vision tying into the newly rebranded Ursa Major as a whole?
Ursa Major is entering a new phase of growth and success as a company. We are achieving critical program milestones, bringing on new contracts, establishing new engine product lines, expanding our infrastructure, and hiring high-caliber talent. The rebranding demonstrates not only where we have come from but where we want to go as a company. We are ready to take on greater challenges and continue to provide the best propulsion systems in the industry. We must be intentional and put dedicated effort into ensuring that our company culture and our diversity, equity, and inclusion represent who we want to be as we step into this next phase of growth as a company. The Diversity Council and a focus on near-term and long-term DEI goals create a foundation for this.
Ursa Major develops high-performing, low-cost engines for launch and hypersonic applications, which for us earthlings means they’re powering the next space race. But beyond how cool that is, we like how their three top metrics—Maternity and Adoptive Leave, Paid Time Off, and Flexible Work Hours—are parent- and life-friendly. Click to explore other reasons why Ursa Major is an out-of-this-world place to work.
Ursa Major has mid-range scores for Support for Diversity on our site, but we always say partnering with an organization like InHerSight is a big step toward improving those metrics, especially for a company in a male-dominated industry like yours. Beyond this partnership, expand on the vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Ursa Major.
The partnership with InHerSight has been great, and it has allowed us to see the real impact we can achieve toward our DEI goals through partnerships like this one! However, we have a lot more work to do and will always continue to strive to do better. The aerospace industry is not known for being very diverse, and many of us within this industry have experienced unjust biases throughout our career. At Ursa Major, we are dedicated toward changing the way our industry works, and we are not afraid to do things differently. We know that with intentional, dedicated effort toward improving DEI, we can create a company unlike any other in our industry. We want to recruit and retain talented, innovative, diverse teams who work together to take on incredible challenges. We value every person at this company for who they are, we build real relationships, and we want every employee to come to work free to be themselves and use what makes them unique to do their best work every day. We know that we are not where we need to be for DEI, and I don’t think there will ever be a day when we claim success and stop trying to improve. In an industry like ours, it takes exceptional work and passion to fight the status quo. With the help of the Diversity Council and the dedicated focus of the executive team, we know that we can continue to improve and make Ursa Major a company that values diversity, equity, and inclusion to make us the best possible team providing the best possible propulsion systems.