We are pleased to share the launch of Pride at MBDA, an employee network supporting and representing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) employees and their Allies.

Pride at MBDA is an important part of our wider Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity programme. It has been initiated by colleagues who are passionate about creating an inclusive culture, where all employees can be themselves at work whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity.

To mark the occasion, we asked one of the new network members, Jo, Head of Business Development and Business Support in Missile Dynamics, to tell us her story about coming out at work and being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Back in 2017, after 17 years in MBDA, I did something that was personally monumental. I did not come out. And it was liberating.

My nearest and dearest will tell you that being enigmatic is not one of my defining characteristics. So when I met my now wife, I didn’t want to keep such a significant part of my life hidden at work. The question was not whether to do it, but how to do it.

For those on the receiving end of my big non-announcement, it may have looked glib… “Hey, I’ve got news! I’m getting married! Here’s a photo of my fiancée!” (Show obligatory cute couple shot and watch for the double take). I have a son, and I don’t want him growing up in a world where the person whom you love and who loves you should require any apologetic tone or big explanation; this joyful but straightforward announcement was my way of making a bit of a difference. So, the one thing nobody at work heard from me were the words, “I’m gay.”

Every LGBTQ person will have a unique experience of living their truth. I think there’s a subtle difference between “coming out” and “outing yourself”. The former is something you actively announce, the latter involves a changing of others’ perceptions of you. However you decide to identify as being LGB, it is not a single event. Barely a week goes by without some small talk where new acquaintances or colleagues will talk about their family, sometimes kindly asking about my “husband”. In that second, I make a choice each time – to out myself, or to stay silent.

I can honestly say that everyone I have met and worked with in MBDA has been wonderfully underwhelmed by my personal life. And I am happy that, each time I am faced with that split-second decision to reveal or not reveal, I don’t feel the need to hesitate.