ITA Group – 2023 Catalysts Honoree

The Role of Leadership in Driving Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

ITA Group has transformed its diversity and inclusion practices over its 60-year history, transitioning from a male-dominated leadership to an inclusive environment that champions authenticity.

At the 2023 Catalysts Live event on July 18th, Maura McCarthy and Jason Katcher shared the stage to discuss their experiences, insight and why they chose to be active allies.

When Maura McCarthy started at ITA Group 24 years ago, the office landscape looked starkly different than it does today. Panty hose and ties were part of the dress code, the leadership team consisted almost entirely of men and women were mainly in support roles, to name a few.

During ITA Group’s presentation during the 2023 Catalysts Live event, McCarthy, Vice President of the Communications Solutions Group, shared that throughout her time with the 60-year-old organization, she’s seen its evolution — one she’s grateful for.

In the past six decades, business has changed, but the one thing that’s remained is we are very focused on inspiring and motivating people to connect with their passion and purpose.

McCarthy, who’s a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, is also happy the business environment has become more accepting, especially because she doesn’t want other people to go through what she did when she had to keep her personal and professional lives completely separate.

She added that eight years ago specifically, things really started to change within the organization. These changes stemmed from ITA Group’s own clients, who were coming to them asking for help developing a culture and brand that employees connected with and cared about. This inspired leadership at ITA Group to look inward as well, resulting in a much more relaxed dress code for one.

Now, employees can wear whatever they feel comfortable in and express themselves accordingly.

Jason Katcher, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the Information Technology Group, who also spoke during the ITA Group’s Catalysts presentation, shared that the dress code is one in which “you can be your true, authentic self.”

He added that the executive team within the organization continues to listen to its employees to make improvements and the office environment as inclusive as possible.

Some recent changes include adding a gender-neutral bathroom, an elevated parental leave policy, enhanced “My Time Off,” mandatory DEI curriculum for employees and more.

Katcher said what’s important is that ITA Group creates a safe environment in which employees feel comfortable and open to asking questions.

We believe everyone should have a voice and a role in diversity.

One way ITA Group promotes this belief is through its employee-led committees, which provide educational content and improve the organization’s presence in the community while promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace.

The committees, which include a Women’s Leadership Group and a Culture Advisory Group, are each sponsored by a member of the leadership team, providing buy-in to each group’s work.

For example, Katcher sponsors the Ignite Committee, and McCarthy sponsors the LGBTQ+You Club.

Feedback from ITA Group employees shows how impactful these committees and the organization’s commitment to DEI efforts are.

ITA Group embraces different policies to be our true, authentic selves and not have to hide.

Another employee shared, “What surprised me most was being sought out by many company leaders.”

Katcher explained how he’s personally been affected by what’s been happening within the organization as well. Even though he doesn’t fall into a diverse category, he thinks about team members who do.

“I also personally chose to dismantle and understand my privilege,” he said.

Some key takeaways related to DEI that Katcher and McCarthy shared are that inaction is action, and people are always watching. You should also choose to get uncomfortable, be vulnerable, accept feedback and intervene when you see harassment.

“I’m not perfect, but I choose to be an active ally,” Katcher said.

This means be curious, educate yourself and ask questions.

McCarthy ended the presentation with this:

Overall, we want people to feel heard, accepted and like they have a place in the company.

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