Bringing one’s whole self to work, as Ron Harris who works in Business Operations at GDIT does, has a ripple effect. As a passionate mentor of other colleagues, Ron knows that when others see him for all he is, he can better help them be their true selves and reach their personal goals.
Opportunities created through great mentorship
“My best day at work is when I’m able to help others, influence others, give guidance to junior analysts, and answer their questions,” Ron shares. “Those are the days I feel most valued.”
Ron mentors more junior employees and also receives his own mentoring from more senior leaders, creating a full circle of giving back. “Someone mentored me and looked out for me, so it’s my obligation and responsibility - and pleasure - to be able to do it for others.”
His official and unofficial mentors over his six years at GDIT have influenced his career and have given him the confidence to raise his hand for new opportunities.
Ron proactively got on the calendar of the business development leader when he wanted to move into a business development role. A conversation about his career goals soon led to a new role in the group. “Sometimes you have to create your own path. It was an opportunity that wasn’t particularly advertised, but I wanted to have that conversation and see what I could do, and it worked out.” Ron found that his leaders were supportive of him creating new opportunities and he’s excited about the work he’s now doing.
Being himself, even on the hard days
Ron feels like he can bring his whole self to work every day, regardless of what’s going on in his life. “From days when I feel great, I’m high energy, full of life to days when I’m maybe a bit down, dragging, I still bring my authentic self. I don’t feel like I have to wear a mask if it’s been a tough day or a tough week.”
He’s felt that most during the racial injustice movement this past summer and has seen the organization become more inclusive of everyone’s individual experiences. “If someone’s dealing with experiences in life, while we don’t want it to affect our work, life creeps in and that’s where it’s important for us to have resources. People to be able to talk to, Employee Resource Groups and mentors, all fill that need.”
Leading and growing the Black Employee Network
Speaking of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Ron is the co-lead of the Black Employee Network (BEN) at GDIT. When he started attending meetings a few years ago, the group was small, and engagement inconsistent. Now, they’re 500 members strong and growing.
“One of the things that really motivates me and what I really enjoy about being at GDIT, is being able to shape and be a part of that diverse and inclusive community that we’re creating.”
The group really took off after organizing events around Black History Month in February 2020 and also through the support they gave members during the social uprising in the summer of that same year. “We started the Black Employee Network sessions and it’s an open forum where we invite any and everyone who’s a part of GDIT to come be a part of the conversation.” The sessions have included leaders, like GDIT’s president, and are leading to collective goals and strategies to make GDIT more inclusive.
“We’re all going to work together and we’re going to make GDIT be a better organization. It’s already good, but we’re going to make it the best it can possibly be by having everyone feel comfortable and be their full and complete self.”