Our company strives to create an inclusive workplace in which all our employees give their best for our customers and are recognised and rewarded for their contribution. The nationwide OutlinkUK group has been active for over 5 years now and is a very valuable part of this effort in our UK business.
OutLinkUK aims to create a work environment which is open, inclusive and welcomes diversity. We recognise that not all employees are comfortable to be themselves at work. The main objectives of the Group are as follows:
- To raise awareness and understanding of the issues that LGBTQ+ employees face
- To provide support and advice to employees who may be experiencing issues with sexual orientation and gender identity
- To celebrate diversity, both internally and externally, such as at Pride events
- To provide a means for like-minded people to share their thoughts and experiences in a supportive environment
- To establish links with LGBTQ+ Networks in other organisations
- To provide opportunities for social networking
At BAE Systems, we recognise the importance of allowing our staff to bring their whole selves to work; it’s vital for the wellbeing of our employees, as well as the productivity of our workforce. Diversity and Inclusion is often discussed at the highest levels in the business, including the specific issues faced by our LGBTQ+ employees and what we need to do to support them.
Julian Cracknell, Managing Director (Applied Intelligence) and Executive Sponsor of OutLinkUK
We aim to help our colleagues in any way we can, even if it is only to provide an understanding point of contact. At the same time, we also recognise that there may be some circumstances when an individual might need a greater level of support which goes beyond the experience or ability of our members. To this end, independent and confidential counselling is available to all employees.
Who is OutlinkUK for?
OutLinkUK is a fully inclusive group and any interested employee can join. This includes:
- those who are openly LGBTQ+
- people who are LGBTQ+ but don't wish their family, friends or colleagues to know
- people who identify as LGBTQ+ with multiple identities e.g. are LGBTQ+ and BAME, are LGBTQ+ and Disabled, are LGBTQ+ and identify with a particular Faith
- anyone who isn't sure how, or indeed whether, to be open with others about their personal situation
- employees who would like to understand more about the issues that LGBTQ+ people can face, for instance if they have a colleague, friend or family member who is LGBTQ+
- allies who are typically non-LGBTQ+ employees and who wish to demonstrate their support for the aims of the group
I know how important employee networks are in supporting people and in encouraging them to be themselves. For the last few years, OutLinkUK has held an annual conference and attended a number of Pride parades within the UK, allowing their LGBTQ+ staff an opportunity to celebrate their identities alongside their colleagues. These events are always a joy to attend, for LGBTQ+ people and Allies alike.
Mark Phillips, Group Communications Director and Executive Sponsor of OutlinkUK
The OutlinkUK Allies Programme
OutLinkUK launched its LGBTQ+ Allies Programme in 2017, for employees who wish to show visible support for their LGBTQ+ colleagues. Allies challenge inappropriate behaviour based on sexual orientation or gender identity, whenever it occurs.
The group developed the Allies programme as research shows that many LGBTQ+ people do not feel able to be themselves in the workplace, often spending a significant amount of time covering-up their real lives for fear of how they may be treated by their colleagues if they knew the truth. This is not only counterproductive but can also significantly impact employee wellbeing.
The LGBTQ+ Allies Programme aims to address these matters by creating a visible community of employees who actively support their LGBTQ+ colleagues. Establishing this community is fundamental to developing a working environment where everyone feels safe and included.
Meet some of our team
How would you identify?Cisgender bisexual woman
Why BAE Systems?“I joined BAE Systems Applied Intelligence back in 2015, having found myself (quite by accident) working in the defence and security industry. Since joining, I have had the opportunity to develop new skills, try a wide range of different roles and explore where my passion lies. Most importantly for me, though, is that I have come across so many wonderful people where I work, many of whom I am happy to call my friends.”
What positive impact have you seen from OutLinkUK in the business?“The thing which makes me feel most proud to be a part of OutLinkUK, is when individuals feel comfortable enough to come out and show who they truly are within our business… sometimes after years, or even decades, of feeling they need to hide who they are to their colleagues, friends and family. A few times people have come up to me and said: ‘I never would have been able to do this if it wasn’t for knowing that OutLinkUK is there and that our business is proud to support and celebrate people like me.’OutLinkUK has taken great strides to make the workplace better and safer for LGBTQ+ people, but also has done so much for the wider diversity agenda and helped educate others on how to help and support marginalised groups.”
ThomasTechnical Coordinator &
How would you identify?Gender Fluid - Gay
Why BAE Systems?“I have always had a passion for self-development and growing myself to be the best me I can be, BAE Systems is the perfect place to do that. Our organisation is international which means there are so many amazing opportunities, that I personally, didn’t want to miss out on. With extensive training programmes and mentors available to you the only limit is your mind-set!”
What positive impact have you seen from OutLinkUK in the business?“When I first joined the company at 16 I was only just realising who I was as a person! I didn’t know I was gay and I certainly didn’t know I was suffering from gender dysphoria. I have grown up in BAE Systems and it has shaped me to be the individual I am now. Whenever I am having a bad day all I need to do is pick up the phone and contact people from OutLinkUK and it instantly lifts my mood. Having a network of people who understand you and what you may be going through really motivates you to come to work and be yourself. At BAE Systems we value individuality and OutLinkUK promotes that through and through.”
MichaelAerodynamics Engineer &OutlinkUKSecretary
How would you identify?Gay, cisgender male
Why BAE Systems?“I was looking for a role that excited me more than the one I was currently in. I’ve always had an interest in aircraft, and when I saw BAE Systems was recruiting engineering graduates I jumped at the chance. When I joined, I was able to move into my dream role of designing Flight Control Systems for future combat aircraft, and I hope to develop in this role for the foreseeable future.”
What positive impact have you seen from OutLinkUK in the business?“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I joined the company, in terms of how inclusive it would be. I had never found it easy to be open about my sexuality with colleagues, but when I became involved in OutLinkUK I was able to be a lot more honest about myself. I have seen OutLinkUK educating employees at all levels in what it means to be LGBTQ+, and what we can all do to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues. Over the years, I have seen the number of LGBTQ+ Allies within the company grow and grow, and I have personally seen the positive impact these allies have on individuals. OutLinkUK have helped improve attitudes towards LGBTQ+ culture, provided valuable resources to all employees, and helped shape company policies to make BAE Systems an inclusive place to be.”
JennaSoftware/System Test Engineer &Gender Identity leadOutLinkUK
She / Her
How would you identify?A woman with a transgender history
Why BAE Systems?“I joined BAE Systems via a Joint Venture company called Aerosystems International Ltd. I always felt that Aerosystems had a small, family company atmosphere where most people knew each other and you felt supported. After being taken over fully by BAE Systems, that atmosphere and the feeling of being supported continued. Throughout my career with the company I’ve had opportunities to work on various different systems, both defence and non-defence. Making the decision to transition in 2012 I wasn’t sure how people would react or how it would impact my career. In the end people took it in their stride and it was reasonably painless. My career has continued to develop and in addition to my day job I’ve been able to take on roles as First Aider, Mental Health First Aider, site Diversity & Inclusion Champion and Gender Identity lead for OutLinkUK.”
What positive impact have you seen from OutLinkUK in the business?“OutLinkUK has provided the chance for staff to talk about issues facing the LGBTQ+ community within BAE Systems. It has developed training for staff enabling them to be more knowledgeable about issues facing the community. From a transgender perspective, supporting the development of a Transgender Policy and also awareness training has made life a bit easier for members of staff who find that the only way that they can be truly happy is to be themselves and to transition while remaining at the company and not having to change jobs and start over some place where they aren’t known.”
Organisations succeed when their staff feel confident to be themselves. We work with over 850 organisations covering a range of sectors, including BAE Systems, all of whom share our core belief in the power of a workplace that is truly equal. By creating an inclusive workplace, employers can recruit and retain a talented workforce where everyone can perform at their best and thrive. Despite progress on lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) equality across the UK, sadly our research shows that LGBT staff and jobseekers continue to experience discrimination and bullying in the workplace.
Kate Williams, Stonewall