Chasity Watson is the manager of university recruiting in Global Talent Acquisition in Seattle, Wash. She has worked at Boeing for 10 years. Watson’s story is one of many stories celebrating Black History Month (February 2021), in which multi-generational Black employees share stories of resilience—and how they are making a difference at Boeing.
I grew up in Florida on the Space Coast. We lived across the river from the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, and I used to watch space shuttles take off and land. Our area code was actually called “3-2-1” for the launch countdown.
My parents were engineers for Boeing at the Kennedy Space Center. They were the only Black members of their teams.
The space shuttle program brought a lot of multicultural families to our towns, but I was still the minority in a lot of my classes. I learned how to understand different backgrounds and seek out relationships, which helped me in my career later on. I had to; it was a way to navigate space for awareness and sometimes safety.
I didn’t know that I was growing up in this melting pot of diversity during a historic time in aerospace when I was a child. It was a way of life. And I didn’t think I’d work in aerospace—I thought I’d work in accounting.
Chasity attended Florida A&M University, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), that her parents and grandparents also attended. She graduated with her Masters in Business Administration in five years.
When I went to Florida A&M University, it was the first time I was part of a majority group. It was super exciting—I had the freedom to be myself and celebrate what it means to be Black without external expectations than can affect how you see yourself. It boosts your self-awareness.
A big part of my training focused on building inner resilience in the workplace—helping you navigate spaces when you’re the only one, when you’re pioneering and furthering what your parents and grandparents did.
I took these tools from my university to Boeing when I started my career as a young Black woman working with teams where I was the only one my age and gender who looked like me.
Chasity interned at NASA as a financial analyst. She realized she wanted to pursue a career in Human Resources (HR), and landed an internship in HR at Boeing South Carolina, where her parents had relocated. She was hired as an HR Business Partner, and grew her career, supporting site manufacturing and people strategy, engineering and finance, Boeing Capital Corporation, Corporate Law and Global Talent Acquisition. Chasity moved to Seattle in March 2015, when she was an HRBP for Boeing Capital Corporation/Corporate Law. In 2018, Boeing made a $6 million investment in HBCUs, and as an HBCU grad, Chasity raised her hand to drive the development of Boeing’s investment strategy.
I was proud to lead our HBCU strategy, but it felt really heavy and important to me to get it right. I didn’t want to let our collective enterprise community down. And we knew we could be doing so much more in that space.
I leveraged all my skills and experiences of managing stakeholder relationships. I looked at the data, and started to build allyship, understanding and educating about the incomparable talent trained and professionally developed at our HBCUS. With the help of a team, we created scholarship programs, freshmen and sophomore pipeline programs, and recruitment strategies to help Boeing be the employer of choice.
Within our first year, we increased recruitment by 400% and our acceptance rate by 61%. It was surreal to be at the forefront of caring for what many have been doing and building over the years.
This year, I was promoted to manager of university recruiting, and I’m a first-time mother. It’s been a challenge. The resiliency skills I learned in college and throughout my career, including having a network, have helped me take a step back and say, this is hard. How can I strategically build relationships with the people around me? How can I give myself and others grace?
I’ve grown more resilient over the past 10 years, and so has Boeing. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and how far the company has come since my dad started working here 35 years ago.
I feel lucky to work at Boeing with my husband, younger sister and parents. We are all continuing to create legacies and redefine what’s possible within Boeing for generations to come
We still have gaps, and I know I have a unique opportunity to lend my voice and affect that talent arc of diversity.
By Rosemary Lane