‘Respected and Accepted’ — Employees at Intelsat Excel Through ERGs

After launching four employee-driven ERGs, Intelsat is leading the way for inclusion and diversity across the satcom industry.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Sep. 29, 2023
‘Respected and Accepted’ — Employees at Intelsat Excel Through ERGs
Intelsat
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One afternoon in September 2022, a huge party transformed Intelsat’s McLean, Virginia, headquarters into a hub of Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. The occasion? The launch of the satellite company’s first employee resource group — HOLA@Intelsat, which had been formed to support Hispanic-origin and Latin American employees.

By June 2023, Intelsat was launching its fourth ERG, PRIDE@Intelsat. Coinciding with Pride month, the launch featured another landmark celebration, this time across five Intelsat locations all streaming live to honor the occasion together.

 

ERGS AT INTELSAT

Currently, the Intelsat team supports four employee resource groups:

  • HOLA@Intelsat — for Hispanic origin and Latin American employees
  • BE@Intelsat — celebrating the Black experience
  • WIN@Intelsat — a Women’s initiative network
  • PRIDE@Intelsat — for LGBTQ+ employees

 

“The overwhelming support for the PRIDE ERG launch was truly amazing,” Alberto Camacho Rojas, senior satellite controller, member of the HOLA steering committee and co-chair for PRIDE, told Built In. “I was expecting the event to be a simple reception with minimal fanfare, but it turned out to be a huge event with executives and even the CEO making an appearance to show their support.”

 

Intelsat
Intelsat

 

That positive response continued with the ERG’s Pride trivia event, which upheld Camacho Rojas’ impression of encouragement and empowerment.

“All this makes me optimistic about what the future holds,” he said. 

Sylvie Macraigne, senior principal product manager, WIN chair and diversity and inclusion council member, left the Pride trivia event with similar sentiments.

“The event left me with the impression of a sense of belonging, being part of something bigger than work,” she said. “It was a kind of ‘suspended time’ during my workday to connect with colleagues while challenging ourselves, laughing and learning.”

For Macraigne, ERG involvement has not only offered opportunities to connect with colleagues and build a more inclusive work environment, but has also given her insight into Intelsat’s global culture.

“I am working alongside my ERG team to support our mission and encourage the development and growth of each of my colleagues,” she said. “I have had the opportunity to develop skills that serve me in my role as a product manager, which reflects how Intelsat encourages people to grow, think outside the box and share ideas.”

 

“Intelsat encourages people to grow, think outside the box and share ideas.”

 

In addition, Macraigne has found new ways to connect with her colleagues across teams, geographies and functions through WIN@Intelsat — particularly on a recent trip to the company’s Singapore office.

 

Intelsat
Intelsat

 

“I set up a WIN@Intelsat event after work for anyone to join, and I got to know a lot of people who I don’t work with directly,” she said. “We are not working in silos — we are supporting each other. Having members spread around the world and organizing events in each of our offices creates a more inclusive environment and strengthens our sense of belonging.”

Collaboration between the four ERGs and Intelsat’s diversity and inclusion council reinforces the company’s interconnected culture and underpins Intelsat’s commitment both to its people and to building an inclusive work environment. 

“Our company strives to be a beacon of DEI excellence by not just talking about creating a diverse workplace but by embodying it in every facet of our operations,” Sharonda Lee-Timberlake, director of global service operations, D&I Council chair and BE@Intelsat co-chair, told Built In. “From leadership representation to recruitment practices, our commitment to DEI fundamentally drives decisions.”

According to Lee-Timberlake, that drive toward diversity and inclusion does more than improve the work experience for employees, it also supports Intelsat’s larger strategic perspectives. “In an environment where everyone’s voice is valued, different perspectives enrich our innovation and problem-solving,” she said.

This approach sets Intelsat apart from the rest of the field as it continues to attract and retain diverse talent — underpinned by a commitment from CEO Dave Wajsgras, who joined Intelsat in April 2022. 

“Everyone should be able to be their authentic selves, bringing our diverse experiences, backgrounds and identities together to make the company better and stronger,” Wajsgras said when he marked the launch of Intelsat ERGs. “We can’t truly benefit from diverse ideas without a diverse and inclusive company and culture.”

For Lee-Timberlake, leadership involvement is key to ensuring long-term success for Intelsat’s diversity goals. “This top-down approach is critical to the sustainability of DEI efforts,” she said. “If a company doesn’t have the support of their executive team, things can seem like lip service and DEI will be just another trend.”

 

Intelsat
Intelsat


Intelsat’s commitment to mentorship is helping further those goals by supporting the development of employees like Camacho Rojas and Macraigne as they grow the skills to become leaders within the company.

The learning and development opportunities include a 12-month global mentorship program for employees at all levels, leadership development programs for high-potential leaders, opportunities to participate in career-development sessions and informal initiatives such as cross-training, stretch assignments and conference attendance.

For Camacho Rojas, participating twice in the mentorship program has helped him connect with mentors and broaden his perspective of Intelsat’s global work.

“I appreciate learning about other departments in the company that I otherwise wouldn’t interact with,” he said.

Macraigne’s current participation in the mentorship program has sparked her desire to continue to expand her involvement in the future.

“I plan to apply to be a mentor next year, to share what I’ve learned through the program with others,” she said. “The mentorship program gives me confidence to build my professional projects and the support and tools to grow and achieve my goals within the company.”

 

INTELSAT’S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

According to Intelsat, the company’s commitment to diversity spans geography, team and seniority, and it positions the workforce as an industry leader. In its social governance report, the company states, “For Intelsat to successfully grow our business and lead the industry, we will hire and retain a diverse workforce (across all leadership levels) that represents our customer base and within the communities we operate. Everyone who works at Intelsat will feel respected and accepted for who they are. We will lead the technology industry by being a top place to work, rooted in our ongoing commitment to DEI.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Intelsat.

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