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How about coming out at work?

Posted by Attrax Administrator
Posting date:10/1/2020 4:04 PM
27 January 2020

Adjusting to the world of work can be a big life step for many graduates. And for many LGBT+ grads, the stereotypical engineering world can make them want to hide. What’s it like at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group? We recently sat down with Rosina, Assistant Mechanical Engineer, to find out how our LGBT+ employees are being supported personally and professionally.

First off, what do you do at Atkins?

I’m currently an Assistant Mechanical Engineer, in the Nuclear & Power sector, I started on the graduate scheme in September 2016. Outside of my day job I sit on the committee for Equilibrium, Atkins’ LGBT+ employee resource group. I also help organise socials for my office.

What is Equilibrium?

Since 2017 this staff network has been helping to make coming to work as good as it can be. A key milestone in 2019 was working with Atkins to produce a “Trans Equality and Transitioning In The Workplace” policy, for our transgender, non-binary and gender fluid colleagues. This year we’re launching our mentoring programme to provide professional or personal peer-support for LGBT+ people.

What drew you to be involved with Equilibrium?

Having hidden from my own identities during my early adult life, I wanted to help other LGBT+ people stay out of the closet when they come to work. I provide support to peers and allies of LGBT+ people to facilitate this. 

How would Equilibrium support LGBT+ graduates joining the business?

One of Equilibrium’s aims is to promote the acceptance and well-being of LGBT+ employees. We want to support all our colleagues equally, and we each have different needs. Many people enjoy living an authentic life without ever having to explain or change who they are. We’re here when that little bit of extra support is needed, and Atkins is proud to help wherever possible.

Why might LGBT+ employees need extra help to thrive?

I think it’s so important to be one’s genuine self at work. We all contribute our experiences and would only perform our best when we can bring our whole selves to work every day. This is something I have felt keenly and want to ensure everyone has this option should they want it. By not expending energy and time filtering what one is going to say, or acting a certain way, one can fully immerse oneself in the 9 to 5, getting the most of out of both the social and professional sides of work life.

What excites you most about your work at Equilibrium?

The inspiration in everyday interactions. I enjoy having candid talks with colleagues who want to learn more about LGBT+ issues. Allowing them to have a safe space to ask ‘silly questions’ that they would be afraid to otherwise ask. They leave feeling more confident to support the LGBT+ people in their lives, and that sort of impact is immeasurable. It’s also very fulfilling to provide support to LGBT+ colleagues and see them progress to being fully who they are.

What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?

As the world and its projects gets more complex, we need more ingenious solutions. To meet this demand, we have to cultivate a range of thinking styles, experiences and skills. This diversity allows teams to come up with more effective results. Diversity comes from so many places – someone’s culture, value systems, education or family status. And learning how to utilize everyone’s diversity is inclusion. 

We all have unconscious biases to some degree. How do you challenge yours?

The first step in challenging them is to acknowledge that you have them. Harvard University has free Implicit Association Tests online. After doing them, I found my results rather enlightening! The very normal, and very human response, to having these biases pointed out is to deny or give reasons. The next step is accepting that you have biases. I found a healthy way to do this is to find news, art, music that celebrates that aspect of diversity. Sometimes biases are as simple as being afraid of something unfamiliar.

Keen to work for a business that will celebrate you for who you are? We’re hiring. Search our jobs to see where you could fit in.


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