The Week of Belonging came into fruition at MITRE as the grand debut of the re-created Business Resource Groups (BRGs). To increase engagement with the new BRGs and awareness of tools to advance inclusion and belonging, Heba Mahmoud (Senior Manager, Inclusion & Diversity) led the charge to create an enterprise-wide event that was fully supported by Stephanie Turner (Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity & Social Innovation) and others in executive leadership. The MITRE Corporation is a nonprofit organization that manages federally funded research and development centers supporting various government agencies.
How did the Week of Belonging come to fruition?
HM: The idea started as a Day of Diversity, where ERGs and the organization could gather for a day to celebrate the progress that our employee-led groups have made in the last year, maturing from ERGs to BRGs. We realized in early 2021 that most of our ERGs were affinity groups that were operating independently with no official guidance from corporate Inclusion & Diversity. MITRE engages with several collaborators in our I&D work, and using our Diversity Best Practices membership, we found Seramount’s resource that cited Jennifer Brown Consulting, and we had each group assess themselves. From there, we formulated a plan and roadmap to transform them into BRGs. With hard work and dedication, we were able to create a BRG playbook that encompassed our strategy focused on talent, community, brand, and culture. As planning commenced, we quickly realized that we had an opportunity to host a weeklong event to reintroduce our BRGs to all departments, share resources to cultivate inclusion and belonging, and work with partners across the enterprise—because diversity and inclusion doesn’t belong just to the Inclusion & Diversity Department.
What was the organization’s response to the event?
HM: Amazing! The ERGs were reduced from a group of eleven to form nine new BRGs. Each BRG group hosted a session, and we hosted five other learning sessions with internal partners and external experts. Plus, we had several forums where employees could share feedback. We incorporated lots of opportunities to have fun and showcase MITRE pride! We had T-shirts that said “You down with BRGs?” for our BRG leaders and members. There was an additional slogan: “One MITRE – I/You/We Belong” that was a hit at the event and was also showcased on our buttons. ST: We also focused on people skills and what we needed from inclusive leaders. It was important for us to focus on what makes us similar instead of different. So, in addition to T-shirts and pins, we promoted our MITRE “Get to Know You” card decks, composed of 52 cards that had questions people could choose from to answer, learn, and connect with others on their differences and similarities. The entire event was filmed by our Communications Department, and they plan to utilize what was captured for promotional use, highlighting how all our people are diverse and can tell the story of who they are beneath the surface.
How impactful was it having the C-suite buy in to the event?
ST: The impact was greater than expected. They came in with the mentality of being open and honest with the audience, and as they got real, the questions got real. They knew that MITRE wasn’t just checking a box; we really want to create change across the organization. Our impact report shows that the opening and closing events, which featured our CEO and Board of Trustees members, had the largest attendance. All our Week of Belonging sessions were recorded and put on a landing page to be accessible throughout the year.
What’s next for MITRE on your DEI journey?
HM: This is a continuous journey for us. We are focused on integrating inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity into the systems at MITRE so that we can sustain all the work we are currently doing and build upon it into the future. We look forward to creating a MITRE culture that celebrates and engages current employees and ensures all new employees are a cultural-add that helps strengthen us to achieve our mission of solving problems for a safer world for all. ST: Our strength has been our technical expertise, and we need to focus on our people skills. People at MITRE are natural problem solvers—and even though we’ve been around for sixty-plus years, we sometimes must operate as a start-up as we grow our teams and expand our outreach through our BRGs. We will continue to equip our leaders with the skills and capabilities in being more culturally responsive. The learning is focused on changing behaviors that are aligned toward our aspirational goal of cultivating an inclusive environment that is representative of and welcoming to our multiple dimensions of diversity.
MITRE’s Relationship Manager, Amanda Faircloth, says: “We are so thrilled that MITRE has chosen DBP to provide insights and support along their DEI journey. As a partner to them in refining their BRG strategy, we couldn’t be happier to see such a successful launch. We look forward to seeing the ways in which this work and our partnership continue to drive a broader culture of inclusion!” Interested in learning more about Seramount Solutions and how we can help move your DEI efforts forward? Contact us.
Krista L. Lindsey is the Associate Director of Product Marketing for Seramount and has almost 10 years of experience in B2B sales, social media management, communications, graphic design, and marketing.
Prior to her time at Seramount, Krista was the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications for The University of North Texas Division of Enrollment, overseeing all aspects of recruitment communications, digital marketing, event promotion, and print design. She joined the higher education sector after launching her marketing consulting business that helped small to mid-size businesses create marketing materials for a successful launch. Krista began her career in B2B sales for Republic National Distribution Company and Quest Diagnostics and previously held a position as the Communications Coordinator for The University of Houston Division of Enrollment.
Krista graduated from Sam Houston State University with a BS in Communication Studies and is currently a Juris Doctor candidate at The University of North Texas Dallas College of Law. She resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, bonus son, and two dogs. When she isn’t planning a wedding or studying for law exams, she can be found in the kitchen learning to re-create dishes from her Creole heritage, practicing mindfulness through self-care, or catching up on her favorite reality TV shows.
Heba Mahmoud is Senior Manager of Inclusion & Diversity at MITRE Corporation. In her role she is responsible for designing, leading, executing, and integrating strategic enterprise-wide I&D initiatives, practices, and processes that cultivate an inclusive culture and reinforces a sense of belonging.
Heba Mahmoud is Senior Manager of Inclusion & Diversity at MITRE Corporation. In her role she is responsible for designing, leading, executing, and integrating strategic enterprise-wide I&D initiatives, practices, and processes that cultivate an inclusive culture and reinforces a sense of belonging. A mission-driven professional, Heba spent the last 17 years working with membership associations to create inclusive, diverse, and equitable professional sectors that welcome and engage underrepresented communities.
Prior to MITRE, Heba was the senior manager of diversity initiatives at the Consumer Technology Association, where she was responsible for building and implementing initiatives to advance inclusion in the tech ecosystem. Previously, Heba worked at the Association of Fundraising Professionals where she took the lead in launching the Women’s Impact Initiative, a program to help advance female fundraisers into leadership roles.
Heba holds an MBA in Business Management from Strayer University and a Bachelor of International Business and Marketing from Howard University. She is also a scholar in the 2018-2020 class of the American Society of Association Executives’ Diversity Executive Leadership Program (DELP). Heba is passionate about youth engagement and actively volunteers with several Washington, D.C. area groups. Heba started a small non-profit organization focused on supporting and engaging Nubian-Egyptian Youth in the DC metro area, and she is a featured author in Collecting Courage: Joy, Pain, Freedom, Love, a collection of stories from fourteen Black writers detailing their experiences in the non-profit sector in the US and Canada.
Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity, and Social Innovation
Stephanie E. Turner is vice president, inclusion, diversity, and social innovation at MITRE. She works collaboratively to develop and drive an integrated inclusion and diversity strategy that will also represent the other two functions she oversees—new employee experience and social innovation.
Stephanie E. Turner is Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity, and Social Innovation at MITRE. She works collaboratively to develop and drive an integrated inclusion and diversity strategy that will also represent the other two functions she oversees—new employee experience and social innovation. Under her leadership, MITRE is strengthening and expanding relationships with external organizations whose perspectives are important in shaping the national social landscape. Her initial focus is on STEM education in underserved communities. Turner is also responsible for MITRE’s new employee experience, ensuring that MITRE’s new hires are engaged and connected during their first year, so they can continue to grow, thrive, and prosper in their careers.
Turner has served over 25 years championing inclusion and diversity and most recently served as vice president of diversity and inclusion, strategic engagement, at Liberty Mutual Insurance. There, she optimized sponsorships and brand presence at national diversity conferences, increased membership in employee resource groups, established governance models to improve customer service, and launched a new employee referral program with talent acquisition.
Her previous leadership roles include managing diversity and inclusion, talent acquisition, and employee engagement at Lockheed Martin, Kaiser Permanente, ESPN, and Motorola. Turner also worked in the oil industry as a marketing and diversity consultant.
Savoy magazine named Turner to its list of the 2022 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. The Washington Business Journal named Turner to its list of Business of Pride honorees for 2021. The award recognizes business leaders for outstanding practices in advancing LGBTQ leadership and equality. She represents MITRE on the AMIE (Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering) board of directors and sits on the advisory board for Simmons University Institute for Inclusive Leadership. Turner also sits on the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce board of
Turner earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Spelman College and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.