How to develop a winning strategy in the war for talent

Aisha Losche, Chief Diversity Officer, Draper

By Aisha Losche, Chief Diversity Officer, Draper

Diversity is becoming an increasingly important value for modern workplaces. Both businesses and their employees profit from a diverse workforce and an anti-discriminatory working environment. A recent report by Draper found that making progress in inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) requires commitment to a vision, but it also requires organizations to adapt to change.

As part of our long-term focus, Draper has published its third annual inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility report. Draper’s IDEA Report helps us hold ourselves accountable for making progress year over year toward our goal of being a community where anyone can see themselves contribute to our mission and pursue a meaningful career.

Jason Karlin, Evelyn Liu and Erin Hayes are members of an Employee Resource Group at Draper. Draper tripled its annual investment in its ERGs in the year ending July 2023. Credit: Draper

In 2023, Draper analyzed anonymized data for 2,088 workers across the company to understand the mix of gender, racial and ethnic diversity across the corporation. The resulting report was eye-opening. It told us where the company stands in hiring, retention, promotion rates and other areas. Within the report, we do acknowledge our gaps of reporting on our people who identify as LGBTQIA+ as well as nuanced views of how our military and people with disabilities progress within our organization. We are investing in new tools to be able to capture our populations more accurately to be able to support those employees.

When done right, goals and regular progress reports can boost diversity even among management jobs, according to Harvard Business Review. But for data reporting and goals to be effective, they must be “detailed to create transparency; shared with insiders and the public to induce accountability; and accompanied by action plans to promote change.”

Arthi Vezhavendan and Angela Brown are members of an Employee Resource Group at Draper. Credit: Draper

Here is what I have found to be key benefits of an IDEA program and how you can effectively implement one.

Shared Vision

Create a shared commitment to a corporate vision. Draper, for one, is committed to a mission to solve the toughest and most important challenges in national security. We can only do that in an inclusive, diverse space that honors and respects individuals in all the ways they identify. We are committed to building upon our values to ensure IDEA is embedded systemically and structurally to have long-lasting change. One benefit of a shared vision is a culture of organizational resiliency, according to the Defense Department.


Craft mentorship opportunities to ensure knowledge sharing. In 2023, Draper launched an enterprise-wide mentorship program on the MentorcliQ platform that allowed us to take a more inclusive approach to engage employees who are hybrid, remote or on a Draper campus (we have nine). Since the launch of our mentorship program, 11 percent of employees have signed up. Popular among IDEA-minded organizations are reverse mentoring programs where knowledge transfer isn’t always top-down. 


Alex Grande and Walter Geanacopoulos are members of an Employee Resource Group at Draper. The ERGs serve as a mentoring and advocacy platform for employees. Credit: Draper

Create a more diverse workforce that reflects the demographics of your customers and operating locations. In 2023, one way Draper updated its recruitment strategy was to strengthen partnerships with universities with strong STEM programs. Each university relationship allows us to build a pipeline, create development opportunities and identify areas where we can establish new ways to feed the top of the funnel. A reminder from consultants at Jobvite is that there are at least eight ways to look at IDEA across recruiting, among them diversity in gender, sexual orientation, racial and mental and physical abilities. A commitment to IDEA can expand the pool of candidates, which is important in meeting hiring goals.


Develop employee recruitment and retention benchmarks and strategies. In 2023, we used the Gartner TalentNeuron to understand the landscape in which our business operates and metrics like employee attrition rates, market compensation trends, recruiting performance and other data points. We also took assessments offered by Disability:IN, Military Friendly Employers and Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index to ensure we are staying ahead of changes and providing our employees with best-in-class experiences. Benchmarking helps organizations hold themselves accountable for making progress year over year.

Matt Figura, Melissa Rowland and Hector Grande are members of Draper’s Employee Resource Groups. Draper has nine ERGs. Credit: Draper

Employee Resource Groups

Form employee resource groups. They serve as a vital part of organizational culture. In 2023, Draper restructured its ERGs by adding new groups to better align with our diversity goals and ensuring each ERG had an executive sponsor and clearly identified leaders. Our nine ERGs serve as catalysts for more inclusive policies, new offerings and better connectivity across our campuses and beyond. ERGs tend to focus on promoting IDEA change, so they’re crucial for helping all staff feel heard and included at work. At Draper, ERGs advise leadership and HR on how to create this sense of belonging.


Upskill and educate people managers and employees on the inclusivity advantages of diverse teams, and unconscious bias training for all employees. Motivate and reward inclusive management and behaviors in the accomplishment of your mission. Build and design training and toolkits for managers. According to McKinsey, lack of career development and advancement are a primary reason for employees to quit their jobs. My advice is to ensure you are offering tailored personal learning and growth trajectories to upskill employees and cultivate a culture of inclusion and belonging. 

Doing the Work

This work is ever-changing; therefore, professionals committed to this work will always be seeking and implementing supportive resources for all their talent. At Draper, we believe our talent delivers their best work in an inclusive environment that enables them to be seen, heard and valued, which is a state Draper constantly strives for.