Working together to break the bias

08 March 2022

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD), the gender diversity network groups from GKN Aerospace, Leonardo and Rolls-Royce have come together to host a series of events focused on addressing gender balance and exploring the different ways to empower teams across the organisations to forge even more inclusive workplaces.

Throughout IWD, which takes place each year on 8th March, colleagues from across the three companies were able to join sessions covering:

  • How to hold a Gender Balance Conversation
  • Breaking the Bias and Smashing Stereotypes
  • Imposter Syndrome training

Led by the Rolls-Royce UK Gender Diversity Network, the first session explored some of the tools available for teams to address the subject of inclusion and diversity, particularly gender diversity for those unsure of where to start.

GKN Aerospace then hosted a panel discussion on ‘breaking the bias and smashing stereotypes’. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult to move ahead. Echoing the theme of IWD 2022, the panel outlined what we can all do to level the playing field.

The final session saw Leonardo offer an introduction to addressing Imposter Syndrome. Often going unacknowledged, Imposter Syndrome affects most of us to some degree, with a lack of self-belief and confidence undermining our ability to progress. The session discussed how to overcome these beliefs and how to go for what you really want.

Nerys Thomas, Head of Inclusion and Diversity for Leonardo in the UK, Cindy van Hattum, GKN Aerospace Lead for ERG Connected Women and Business Ethics Officer, and Greg Turner-Smart, Group Inclusion & Diversity Lead at Rolls-Royce, explained how the event came about due to shared interest and increased collaboration between the companies’ inclusion and diversity teams.

“We all work in the same sector and all share the same passion to attract the best people to our organisations,” says Nerys. “This means doing what we can to create an inclusive work environment that allows us to not only attract more women to our company, but to develop and retain those who are already making a telling contribution to our future business.”

“We are all excited to see how by working together, we can help advance the careers of women, provide opportunities to build their leadership skills, broaden their networks and enable them to reach their individual career aspirations,” adds Cindy.

“Collaboration and different approaches are so important to us so that we have diversity of thought,” explains Greg. “We’ll only ever truly see change if we work collectively on big challenges.”

“Today’s events highlight just some of the inspiring role models who are helping us transform all three organisations, and help us offer our colleagues a fresh point of view and something a bit different,” continues Nerys. “We very much hope these could be the first of many such events.”

The IWD series brought together inclusion and diversity champions from across GKN Aerospace, Leonardo and Rolls-Royce, many of whom play an active role on the companies’ employee-led network groups as well as leading the conversations today.

Jason Watson-Massey, Head of Engineering Projects at Leonardo, who joined the second panel, explains the importance of celebrating IWD: “I was delighted to be invited to take part in this series of events addressing gender equality. Supporting IWD is important to me because without the support of male allies, we will be unable to make the changes we require at the pace we need in order to have a more equitable society.”

Louise Dale chairs Leonardo’s Equalise network group and led the session on Imposter Syndrome. “IWD is really important; it allows everyone to have open conversations about gender and enables us to demonstrate our commitment to #breakthebias and make the workplace more inclusive. This not only means working to address the issues that still exist in the corporate world, but also those barriers we may put up ourselves,” says Louise.

“Imposter Syndrome is something I have suffered from for most of my life. Until recently, I never knew there was something called Imposter Syndrome or that others have it too. I just thought I wasn’t as good as those around me, and as a result I had very little self-confidence or belief. Understanding Imposter Syndrome means I now have the tools to manage it and I have started to believe in my own abilities. I want to spread the word to allow others to break their barriers and grow in confidence!”