Power in Numbers: Why I'm proud to champion the LGBTQ+ community

“If you have 2000 employees, it is said 1% are transgender, that’s 20 employees. 50% of those employees are likely to suffer from mental health and attempt/complete suicide.  That is 10 employees”

As a representative of the MBDA Pride Network, I had the pleasure of attending the The Royal Academy of Engineering : The Power in Numbers conference this month. The above quote was one of the key pieces of information I took home from the event and it made it ever more important that we continue to champion diversity at MBDA through our network and allies.

The need for visual LGBTQ+ Role Models within the Engineering industry was highlighted throughout the conference which included a fantastic guest speaker, Lord Brown, who lived a double life until he was publically outed in 2007, as well as a panel discussion from representatives from a number of prominent engineering companies and bodies.

Listening to the importance of role models really reinforced my decisions to be open about my sexuality and to play a key role in the MBDA Pride Network, as I’d like my colleagues to know that there are other people like them and that they can bring their whole selves to work, regardless of sexual identification or orientation.

Role models, to me, are key influencers, in that they can provide examples of how to overcome both major and minor adversity in life, promote self-improvement through sharing their own experiences and help to motivate others in being more self-confident.  Most importantly, role models can have a significant impact on the decisions that we make in life – in relation to the LGBTQ+ community and work, this could be choosing to be open and honest about our sexual orientation or choosing to peruse a certain career with long standing stereotypes within it without fear of judgement around your gender identification – role models in the LGBTQ+ can give people the confidence to live their lives more freely and authentically.

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Myself and Panel Discussion member, Mark Phillips, Director of Communications, BAE Systems

I aspire to be a positive example for those within the company who identify within the LGBTQ+ community as well as possible applicants also. My view since starting the company nearly eight years ago is to be honest with myself and the people around me. My experience during this time has been one without discrimination – I am seen first and foremost as an engineer and my work is judged upon my skills regardless of my sexual orientation.

Thinking back to the statistic I mentioned earlier, whereby ten employees identifying as transgender out of a work population of 2000 are likely to suffer with mental health problems and attempt suicide – I want those people to know that there is a network of colleagues who will support them, help them through what they’re going through and act as allies at a time where they may be feeling very much alone.

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Our Pride network joined partner companies and our UK customers at London Pride 2019

I am proud to share that being part of the LGBTQ+ community does not affect me or how I do my job. Later on in my career, I hope to be viewed as a positive role model, not just for the LGBTQ+ community but for a champion of diversity as a whole. I want to show those within the engineering sector that there are equal opportunities for all and you can be exactly who you are without it affecting your career prospects.

Since the beginning of the year, the MBDA Pride Network Since has been blooming. There have been a number of people join who have stated that they would not have normally felt confident enough to be “out” in such a large company but because of the huge number of those who identify as LGBTQ+ as well as Allies within the network, they feel more comfortable and confident. We as a community have held internal events and joined other companies at external events, working hard to grow our network and make external contacts. To have come so far in such a short space of time is testament to the passion and dedication from members of the MBDA Pride Network and I hope we continue to grow in numbers and impact.