At NASA’s Johnson Space Center, doing the hard things is
no alien concept. But sometimes, building an ideal culture and workplace
environment — especially at such a large campus and with so many people involved
— can pose a challenge.
However, it’s worthwhile for us to take the time to make
it happen, because mission readiness and workforce unity bring big goals — like
the Moon — much closer into our orbits.
To help promote this effort, Johnson recently appointed a
new center anti-harassment coordinator (CAHC), Monica Foley. Together, she and Carol Harvey, also a CAHC, help ensure this nucleus of human space
exploration remains one of the best places to work in the federal government.
recently heard the phrase, ‘If you see something wrong, do something right.’
Some folks might not know what to do if they experience or observe harassment
at NASA. Our JSC anti-harassment coordinators are phenomenal. Carol and
Monica make sure that immediate and appropriate action is taken to stop the
harassing conduct. Their role is critical in ensuring
accountability and due process,” said Deborah Urbanski, director of Johnson’s
Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. “Their goal is always to address
harassing conduct at the earliest possible stage, before it becomes severe or
pervasive. Workplace harassment should not be a persistent problem that goes unreported. That’s why the new agencywide anti-harassment
will help everyone better understand how to identify and report harassing
conduct. We all have a responsibility to make JSC a harassment-free workplace.”
Meet the crew
Johnson’s CAHC team has one year shy of
50 years combined NASA experience, and their backgrounds are quite different. However,
each brings their own personal strengths and unique histories to the role of
Harvey is chief of the Accounting Services Office, and
has worked for the Office of the Chief Financial Officer for the entirety of
her career, with a few details to other organizations intermixed.
made an attempt to learn from each of my supervisors, whether it was what works
or what doesn’t, and use those lessons with people I work with,” Harvey
said. “Caring about the whole person helps me as both a supervisor and as
meanwhile, is now the assistant to the center director for Management and
Integration, but began her career as an Electrical Power Systems Flight
Controller for the International Space Station within Flight Operations.
was 21 years old when I first began … I was so green!” Foley said. “I thought
that once I entered the gates, I was accepted into an alternate universe where
everyone only cared about the mission of advancing the human race through space
exploration. What I’ve learned is that we have not yet formulated the
perfect equation that zeros out the –isms of society — ageism, sexism, racism —
but if we are to achieve the pinnacles of success, we’ll have to, because
cognitive diversity matters.”
Why — and how — to do better
may be easy to shrug at notions like workplace unity, but it’s crucial to our
continued success. If the International Space Station has taught us anything,
it’s that environments are everything.
bias, micro-aggressions and micro-inequities are, quite frankly, the most
ubiquitous forms of discrimination, and are often labeled as harassment,” Foley
explained. “If we each accept the inherent responsibility of being more mindful
that each of us has very simple desires: to be respected, to have a voice and
to have a choice, then a positive workplace culture is inevitable.”
what if your environment is not
positive? What then?
presume positive intent,” Harvey said. “Most people don’t intend to be
difficult, harassing [or your favorite negative behavior]. Ask questions to
help them clarify. For example, ‘Can you explain that in more detail?’ Second,
practice respectful conflict encounters. Conflict is healthy when the result is
an understanding of multiple options, and participants walk away knowing why an
option was chosen or a decision was made.”
the simple answer is to just talk it out.
a conversation with your team member who may be totally unaware of his
behavior, or its impact on you,” Foley added. “Some folks are just
socially awkward, or snarky, because that’s their sharpest personality trait.
Others will allow their insecurities to surface in negative actions, immature
dialogue and bullying. Keep talking.”
if talking isn’t enough — there are many avenues Johnson employees can turn to
to your supervisor,” Harvey said. “Be ready with examples and suggestions for
different behaviors than the ones exhibited.”
all, “Don’t accept the role of victim,” Foley said. “If you can’t reach your
team member, talk to your management, their management, Human Resources, a CAHC.
NASA has provisions to ensure our workplace is safe and healthy. You have a
voice and a choice at JSC. Our center directors lead by example with a fundamental
platform, integrity [and] the expectation is that everyone in the JSC family
will follow suit.”
environments are only truly beneficial in space, as scientists observe how
certain phenomena react in a microgravity test bed. Here at Johnson, to be
daring, we must first be inclusive and welcoming of diverse opinions and
are working at a time of distinction in our nation’s history. We’ve just
celebrated the Apollo generation,” Foley said. “We are the Artemis generation,
and with that comes a bold challenge and a significant responsibility. We
are who the world will celebrate in 50 years! If we can’t set the standard, who
What can you
do? Take the new gamified agencywide
anti-harassment training to ensure your actions
are conducive to the workings of an elite team shooting for the Moon.
CAHC Monica Foley, who is also the assistant to the center director for Management and Integration. Image Credit: NASA/Allison Bills
CAHC Carol Harvey, who is also chief of the Accounting Services Office. Image Credit: NASA/Allison Bills