Our Partnership with AFBE-UK is Taking Off

25 February 2021

At Leonardo, we are committed to offering a welcoming, inclusive and diverse environment for all of our employees. When we launched our Inclusion and Diversity Plan in 2020, we stated that achieving a better ethnicity balance is really important for us and that we would be putting actions in place to get us there.

Last year, we took a proactive step along the journey by being the first company in our industry to create a partnership with the Association for Black and Minority Ethnic Engineers (AFBE-UK). AFBE-UK is a not-for-profit organisation with a current membership of 1,500 individual engineers across the UK. Our partnership is designed to enable us to attract, develop and retain talent from different ethnic backgrounds – talent that we really value.

Since being part of AFBE-UK and through a number of meetings with the organisation, we have identified a number of actions that we are taking this year supporting our Inclusion and Diversity Plan. We will be:

  • Targeting an increased number of applications from different ethnic backgrounds to create a more diverse workforce.
  • Supporting STEM programmes hosted by AFBE to ensure jobs in our industry are widely visible to the next generation and that pupils from BAME backgrounds have equal access to and visibility of our opportunities.
  • Encouraging courageous conversations where people feel more comfortable starting and having discussions about race.
  • Empowering our employees from different ethnic backgrounds by providing a platform to share their views.

To address the first point, we are already advertising some of our current vacancies on the AFBE-UK website to make our opportunities visible. Later this year, we will be co-hosting a ‘Transition Programme’ with AFBE-UK, where some of our managers will be offering career tips, mock interviews and applications advice to attendees who we hope will be inspired to apply for our Early Careers Programme in 2022. AFBE-UK Transition participants have previously found the programme vital in building confidence and an understanding of what becoming an engineer entails. We have so many opportunities across several engineering disciplines that we look forward to sharing when we open for applications later this year. Through such activities, we hope to start tipping the ethnicity balance within our organisation in the right direction.

We will be supporting AFBE-UK with their excellent calendar of events with schools – which have previously reached 3,500 students – in order to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Leonardo will also be working with AFBE-UK internally and with our Leadership Teams and employees, to raise awareness around having conversations about race. We appreciate that it can be difficult to have a discussion, for fear of saying the wrong thing, so we aim to address this since it is too important an issue to avoid.

AFBE-UK has already agreed to support us with our Inclusive Recruitment Training, reviewing the way we advertise and reach out to applicants. The training itself will ensure that we benefit from the support of our Hiring Managers in continuing to adopt fair selection processes that are free from unconscious bias.

Continuing with the theme of learning and education, something on the immediate horizon is getting involved with the AFBE-UK Mentoring Programme by inviting Leonardo employees to be either a Mentor or a Mentee. We are sure there is much we can learn from these mentoring relationships and it is not only about sharing experiences; we equally embrace the idea of reverse mentoring where our leaders are open to learning from others and hearing different perspectives.

Dr Ollie Folayan, Member of the AFBE-UK Executive Board and Chairman of AFBE-UK Scotland, said: “As I have interacted with people at Leonardo, I have been struck by the level of genuine commitment there is towards cultivating an inclusive culture. This is a partnership we are happy to have forged; we hope to increase the number of applicants from minority ethnic backgrounds who apply to Leonardo. We will also work with Nerys Thomas, Head of I&D, and her team to make Leonardo a workplace to which all feel they can bring their whole selves.”

There is a great buzz in the air that so much work is already well underway that will make a positive difference.