Turning the Rotors of Change: Leonardo and UK industry collaborate on a more inclusive and diverse workforce

29 May 2023

As a part of Leonardo’s ongoing ‘Social Value’ series, the company hosted more than 70 guests from across the business, as well as external stakeholders spanning various industries, to generate discussion on inclusion and diversity in the workplace.

The workshop took place on 9 May 2023 at the Westland Entertainment Venue in Somerset, which is located near Leonardo’s site in Yeovil. Colleagues from the ‘Home of British Helicopters’ and the wider Leonardo UK business were joined by guests from its UK supply chain, and organisations from across the country, to define how to best attract and retain diverse talent.

Throughout the day, interactive panels and speaker spotlights took place that created a platform for open conversation and the sharing of best practice. There was also a focus on the challenges faced by marginalised groups upon entering the working world. Offering their own lived experiences, speakers were able to touch on what inclusive corporate practices should look like. They also encouraged attendees to adopt inclusivity through better hiring processes, accessible career pathways, supported employment and networks.

The event featured guests from Somerset Council, e50k, Kuehne & Nagel (K&N), Chelton, Social Value Portal UK and many more. Rachel Ruxton, Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Leonardo UK, hosted these discussions, whilst Gabriella Ardessi, Social Value Manager for Leonardo’s New Medium Helicopter (NMH) campaign, led the day as a moderator.

Quincey Ankrett, who is Director of consultancy firm e50k, praised the workshop for its open mentality that encouraged attendees to embrace how diversity can boost business and innovation. She highlighted that, “The things that make you unique – your diversity and your differences – really are a superpower and a strength that create positive influence.”

Mike Morrisroe, Head of UK Campaigns at the ‘Home of British Helicopters’, also stressed the importance of better inclusion and diversity in the working world. He said, “Like the multiple and diverse components which enable the unique machine that is a helicopter to fly, we recognise as a business that without the individual parts, we too cannot reach new heights if we don’t grow, evolve, and diversify.”

Emma France, who is a Somerset Supported Employment Co-ordinator, commented: “The workshop has presented a significant opportunity to form partnerships that support diversity across various sectors. There has been fantastic engagement, with absolute transparency about what change needs to take place in order to create inclusive work environments. The panels are very effective in opening up discussions about inclusion and diversity, and the enthusiasm from the audience reflects the success of the day.”

Hana Ellis, Marketing Manager for Chelton, underlined that the workshop has given her inspiration to transfer lessons from the day into her own company values. She asserted that going forward she will, “explore the opportunity of creating an employee forum on inclusion and diversity. As well as this, I would like to break the stigma that inclusion and diversity initiatives are just for HR colleagues; they should be incorporated into company culture for everyone to work on and grow.”

Jainna Bhalla is a 2nd year Project Management Degree Apprentice at Leonardo’s Basildon site and the Communications Lead for the company’s Ethnicity Inclusion network. On the panel focused on how to retain diverse talent, Jainna explained how Leonardo’s seven networks help create and nurture a sense of inclusion and the role she is playing in developing a sense of belonging within the business. Looking back on the day Jainna said: “The event was thought-provoking and empowering. It was great to see so many passionate people motivated to make a positive difference with their company’s I&D agenda. At Leonardo, we are definitely moving in the right direction and I am excited to see where this journey takes us.”

Leonardo is committed and passionate about working with colleagues, stakeholders and organisations across the UK to uphold crucial social value activity through initiating positive change. These changes and improvements are at the heart of what Leonardo does, whether that is investing in the next generation of engineers, implementing green solutions, or engaging with communities. This workshop is a continuation and expansion of ongoing inclusion and diversity work at Leonardo UK, and through collaboration with industry and partners, will continue to be a force for positive change in the future.