“With more diverse perspectives, we have more innovative solutions to offer,” said Laila Salguero, Peraton’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Officer. “As customers continue to rely on Peraton to develop unique solutions that address their critical missions of consequence, we will increasingly need to tap into the diverse set of talents across our workforce.”
Salguero is Peraton’s first DE&I Officer and the company’s first Latina senior executive. Beyond her firsts within Peraton’s leadership, Salguero is driving change throughout the company.
“We view DE&I as a mission critical element within the organization,” said Salguero. “We want to ensure that DE&I is part of our corporate footprint in the marketplace and helps us to capture and retain the best and brightest talent in the industry.”
Peraton’s exponential growth in 2021—expanding from 3,400 to a projected 24,000 employees through the acquisition of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Mission Support and IT Solutions business and the planned acquisition of Perspecta—demanded a more holistic approach in order to appropriately scale its existing DE&I efforts. This led, in part, to the creation of more formal processes and positions to codify the company’s emphasis on DE&I, starting with the appointment of Salguero to the role of Chief DE&I Officer.
With more than two decades of experience in ethics, compliance, risk management, human resources, and process optimization, Salguero plans to bring these skills to her new role. She has already made significant progress in the standup of the function, having engaged in an outcome-driven enterprise listening tour with sector and functional leadership, employee resource group (ERG) and business resource group (BRG) members, and external stakeholders across Peraton’s communities.
“I am being deliberate and focused, approaching every aspect in a purposeful way to ensure concrete outcomes and results,” she explained. “I’m encouraged by the support DE&I has received at all levels of the company. It’s clear to me that Stu Shea and the executive leadership team are fully committed to ensuring that each employee’s voice is heard at Peraton. It is a business imperative and a key to our collective success.”
DE&I adds value within any organization and will ultimately strengthen Peraton’s ability to support its government customers. Peraton’s business outcomes, customer solutions, and community partnerships are strengthened by the unique backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences that employees bring to the company.
“We want to be an influential voice in the community,” said Salguero. “Peraton will continue to recognize and promote the incredible value that is derived from our differences regardless of what those are – each employee brings unique differences and perspectives.”
Salguero’s plan is to build on relationships Peraton has already cultivated and establish new programs and initiatives focused on enabling business outcomes and providing collaboration and growth opportunities for a diverse employee population. She wants every decision to be about generating real improvements in the lives of Peraton employees and partners, including the supply chain and small business partners.
One early DE&I project involves partnering with Peraton’s talent acquisition team to expand Peraton’s recruiting engagement to create deeper relationships with associations like the National Society of Black Engineers and to have a presence at job fairs held for rural communities. Salguero is also supporting outside-the-box thinking for university recruiting events, looking at schools underrepresented in the national security industry and expanding existing relationships. These outreach initiatives will help create a more diverse pipeline and will reinforce the message to those communities that diversity is important to Peraton and its employees.
“We’re taking a look at everything we do and trying to shake it up, from the language used in job descriptions to the interview process to how leaders conduct performance reviews and evaluate employees,” added Salguero.
Salguero is also focused on updating internal procedures and policies. She has seen the benefits of Peraton’s business resource groups (BRGs) on company culture and hopes that adding new resource groups will increase engagement by providing support to employees from diverse backgrounds: racial, cultural, ethnic, professional, and geographic. Peraton’s legacy BRGs already participate in community outreach efforts; adding more BRGs will create positive local impact. Salguero will also work to make Peraton’s healthcare and benefits program—as well as education, training and professional development—more inclusive of what employees need.
“I am excited for the opportunity and challenge,” said Salguero. “And I’m excited for Peraton, too.”