In Rolls-Royce, we recognise the importance of fostering a culture in which everyone can feel included, but changing a culture or making employees feel comfortable being their true selves can take time. One way we are enabling this change is by actively seeking companies that we can collaborate with. By doing so, we can learn from the experiences of others and share the lessons we have learned to help embed inclusive cultures more widely.

In April 2017, we held a joint event with Airbus at our site in Bristol – the result of months of conversations and support offered by one another in developing our respective LGBT+ networks. The event featured speakers from both companies, as well as the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Microsoft, Roland White. The highlight of this event, however, was the showing of a video that Rolls-Royce and Airbus had produced together – a collection of interviews with employees from both companies discussing their own experiences of being LGBT+ in the workplace, and demonstrating that LGBT+ colleagues should have nothing to fear in coming out at work.

Another highlight was a Trans Awareness Workshop delivered in Derby with guest speakers from Balfour Beatty, Amanda McKay and Christina Riley. The session gave Rolls-Royce employees great insight into the challenges faced by transgender employees and what allies can do to support them at work, and the feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that we recently repeated the workshop in Bristol, and not just for our own employees – we were also joined by employees of Airbus and Babcock International.

And we have no plans to stop collaborating just yet. Warrick Matthews, co-sponsor of Prism, the Rolls-Royce LGBT+ network, gave a talk in late 2016 on what Delta Airlines are doing with regards to D&I. This led us to adopt a theme of ‘Customer’ for 2018 and we have been working hard to involve as many customers as possible in our LGBT+ inclusion plans for this year. We are building a relationship with British Airways and anticipate holding multiple joint events with them; we are intending to host a joint event featuring the Armed Forces for our Defence sector in Bristol; we are in talks with several other aerospace customers about what collaborative opportunities may exists with them; and we will continue working with those companies – customers and non-customers alike – that we have already established a relationship with.

At Rolls-Royce, we’re grateful for the support we’ve received from other companies willing to help us with our own journey to LGBT+ inclusion, and we look forward to doing what we can to support others in reaching their own goals.