Q&A: Raytheon CCO Pam Wickham

Pam Wickham, CCO of Raytheon, talks with PRWeek about CSR initiatives, comms teaming up with IT, and employee engagement at the aerospace and defense company.

Pam Wickham, CCO of Raytheon, talks with PRWeek about CSR initiatives, comms teaming up with IT, and employee engagement at the aerospace and defense company.

PRWeek: What does Raytheon do in the corporate responsibility space?
Pam Wickham:
We spend 60% of all CSR contributions on STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education. After reviewing what is most important to the company's long-term success, it always came down to engineers and employees. Our innovation would dry up without a pipeline of engineers. We also found that middle school was a key pivot point in terms of where the US begins to fall off the top list in terms of our students' capabilities in math and science.

In 2005, we created a program called MathMovesU showcasing to teenagers that everything they love is foundational in math and science. Employees became more engaged with mentoring and volunteering in schools, we provided scholarships to students and teachers, and we partnered with Disney to launch an exhibit at Epcot where kids could design their own rollercoaster, among other efforts. The program continues to this day.

The other 20% of our CSR focuses on Armed Forces support and wounded warriors. As soldiers come back wounded, we partner with the Wounded Warrior Project on training centers that teach job skills, such as computer science. Last year, we created a social and digital advocacy campaign called Hashtags4Heroes (#HT4H) to raise awareness of wounded warriors. We're launching another #HT4H campaign in May.

PRW: Talk about how Raytheon's communications team partners with the IT department on initiatives.
IT is the enabler of communications, the ones with the toolset that enables us to deliver communications efficiently. If we are interested in a platform or have a comms challenge, some of the first people we sit with are on the IT team. They've been a tremendous partner.

For example, IT helped us launch an internal networking and real-time information-sharing platform three years ago called R Space. Similar to Facebook, it has various communities, blogs, and wikis. It was our fastest-adopted platform in the company, with 50,000 users out of 68,000 employees within the first few months of activation. It became a very powerful networking tool for employees.

PRW: How else does Raytheon engage employees?
We have a number of employee resource groups that are our strongest advocates and champions out there to tell our story. We have groups for LGBT, Hispanic, American-Indian, Asian-Pacific, and black employees, as well as associations for people with disabilities, women, and young employees. The Raytheon Women's Network, for example, works in the company to support women's career paths and volunteers in communities to support young women. It's about diversity – the more diverse thoughts you have around the table, the better you're going to be.

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