Diversity & Inclusion, PRIDE

Passion for Diversity

Amo Lalli is an impressive person. Impressive for what he has achieved in his career and for the compelling case he makes for a workplace where the diversity of colleagues is not just accepted, but understood.

He knows what he’s talking about. A British Asian born and raised in Leicester, he lived and worked in South America for eight years – where he taught himself Portuguese and in 2016 married partner Wallace, who is originally from Brazil.

“Our wedding was a great, fun, diverse experience,” Amo explains. “We followed my Anglo-Indian culture, which is to have lots of celebrations throughout the week leading up to the big day, and we were joined by guests who flew in from overseas.”

“It was a complete mix of Brazilian, English and Sikh traditions that ended with a very emotional marriage ceremony at a beautiful country estate.”

Like many of his gay British Asian friends, Amo faced rejection when he came out to his grandparents. They were concerned about how it would make them look in Sikh society and suggested a course of ‘treatments’ to ‘correct’ his issues.

However, Amo has not experienced the same ill-feeling from others, with his more immediate family and friends giving him plenty of support and love.

In the workplace, Amo has never experienced any direct prejudice over his ethnicity or sexuality during his 19-year career, however getting to the point where he felt able to say he had a husband was far from straightforward.

“It’s not uncommon for people in the LGBT+ community to lead what might be termed as a double life,” he says. “They come into work and simply don’t discuss their personal lives. When people asked me about my relationships or even what I’d done at the weekend, I’d automatically be defensive and try to avoid the questions, partly to avoid embarrassment and awkwardness.”

Even as an experienced director working right at the heart of Jaguar Land Rover in the Commercial and Supply Chain planning space, and someone who regularly presents to senior executives, Amo admits the decision to be ‘out, married and open’ was hard.

“I wanted to break the cycle of not discussing my personal life and using ways to avoid the subject,” he explains. “Trust and understanding are crucial when building strong personal relationships, and essential to getting things done effectively – so it’s important for me to be open and authentic in order to really get to know my colleagues.

“I remember the relief after taking Wallace to a JLR Christmas ball a few years ago, knowing I no longer needed to be ambiguous about my sexuality.”

To make a real difference for others in the workplace, Amo believes there’s a need for role models from the LGBT+ community that others can look up to and ask for guidance.

“I don’t promote or project myself, but I do hope it is helpful that a leader, who has a strong track record of delivery at Jaguar Land Rover, is being open and also taking a visible role in collaborating with many parts of the business to shape a more inclusive work environment.

“Some of the personal stories other people have shared about their experiences at work as a result of being LGBT+ are truly upsetting. I’m passionate about driving an inclusive workplace culture where people can be their authentic selves.”

Amo explains that Jaguar Land Rover and those who volunteer to support the PRIDE Network have taken many positive steps in terms of creating better conditions for LGBT+ colleagues to feel valued and more comfortable, but it is important not to rest on any laurels.

“If you are a transgender colleague for example, it should not be a long and frustrating process to get your security pass updated as it was just a couple of years ago. There should be a clear process, enabling you do to it quickly and without having to explain yourself repeatedly. There are still areas where we can improve and help LGBT+ colleagues, as all everyone wants to do is go to work and do their job, surrounded by great people.”

While it might appear hard to make a ‘commercial case’ to push for better policies and practices given that the benefits can often take years to flow through, Amo believes it ultimately makes sound business sense, as Jaguar Land Rover should aim high and achieve ‘employer of choice’ status with the LGBT+ community.

He says: “We should recognise that a significant number of existing and prospective employees and customers care passionately about these issues. As a company, I believe we’ve got a very good reputation in the LGBT+ community, but it is important this is always supported by an authentic, progressive and inclusive culture in our all of our facilities.”

Diversity & Inclusion, PRIDE

A huge amount of PRIDE: A powerful case for listening and understanding

This week we meet Joanne Smallwood who opens up about her struggles with mental health, to show visibility for World Mental Health Day and Spirit Day.

Joanne’s enthusiasm for her career and Jaguar Land Rover has encouraged her to speak candidly about the daunting personal challenges she has faced.

She makes a powerful case for more listening and greater understanding across our teams and workplaces.

Joanne, Business Operations Lead, said: “My story was not something I aimed to share, but it’s important we all take the next step when it comes to understanding both mental illness as well thinking about our many LGBT+ colleagues.” 

“The business is definitely on the right track, but we can do more to make people feel happy and content here at Jaguar Land Rover and therefore even more productive.”

Feelings of guilt caused the teenage Joanne enormous anxiety and panic, which disrupted her education and required significant medical help.

It took Joanne time to find a route back and realise that honestly assessing her mental health would be an ongoing task, and that pursuing a relationship would help.

“My mum was incredibly supportive in terms of understanding and helping me put things into context. I owe a great deal to her and she inspired me to be strong.

“People who know me are less surprised that I have a female partner and more that I’ve experienced quite serious mental health problems and still need to be mindful of it.

“I am seemingly this confident, bubbly person, but I need to consider my mental well-being and there have been times when it has been uncomfortable to discuss my sexuality at work.”

Joanne joined Jaguar Land Rover’s PRIDE Network a year ago and has found the experience hugely important on several fronts.

She realised she was far from alone at Jaguar Land Rover when she joined and has enjoyed being able to help and to support other LGBT+ colleagues.

“We have new starters who want to succeed but they come here not knowing what they can say, or anxious as to whether they’ll fit into in a manufacturing world.

“In some areas nobody is openly LGBT+, and it can feel lonely or awkward to get involved in chats or important social events.”

Joanne says these issues matter enormously if the business wants to recruit and retain the best people.

“When you’re part of a global business with strict deadlines and big budgets, it’s essential you feel part of a team and sometimes discussing things other than work.”

Now on the right track – with a busy, fulfilling career and enjoying life with her partner Amy – Joanne hopes talking about her sexuality and mental health will encourage people to listen and understand.

“The PRIDE Network is not only here to help people who are from the LGBT+ community, but we are available to support and educate everyone. They’ve certainly helped me enormously.

“A great first step is just being prepared to invest some time in listening and understanding. Ultimately, we’re all aiming for the same thing and that’s happy, successful teams who feel completely at ease and able to fully contribute to our brands.”

Diversity & Inclusion, PRIDE

A message from Jonathan Wilson, PRIDE Committee Co-chair

I’ve learnt that I have been extremely fortunate in my career at JLR.  I’ve never once felt I couldn’t talk about my relationship with my partner, who is also a man, openly with colleagues, and not be accepted for who I am.  Sadly, this is not the same experience for everyone, which is not unique to JLR, and by engaging in the discussion in the Pride network I’ve come to realise that this experience varies drastically for the different groups within the LGBTQ+ community.

I’ve been asked by people, including my partner, why we need individual diversity groups – “…surely, we should just talk about ‘Diversity’ as a whole”.  I am in agreement that we should all be more diverse and inclusive, but what I’ve learnt is that each network has its own challenges that need a different focus and who’s communities need a different type of support.

In getting to this understanding, I have had to address some of my own, previously un-recognised, prejudices.  I will admit I don’t fully understand what someone who identifies as transgender feels or experiences in their life, despite both of us being in the same “Pride alphabet”.  As part of my journey of discovery, I have realised that our experiences are vastly different mainly because, as a gay man in the UK, I have been fortunate that other people have taken the burden of ‘normalising’ being gay in the country I have grown up in.  Other people have had to go through living with the stigma, discrimination and stood up for the rights and acceptance that I now take for granted.  For my friends and colleagues who identify as Trans, this is not the case, even in this day and age – from what I have understood, we’re still a long way off creating a society in the UK where people can be their true selves, without the societal pressures and stigma that makes day to day life for our community just….hard and sometimes impossible.

I’ve been conscious to state that I’m fortunate to live in the UK.  In many countries, including those that JLR operates in, LGBTQ+ identities remain to be actively discriminated against and in some countries, it continues to be illegal.  I can’t even imagine what it would be like to live somewhere where I am made to feel excluded from society because of who I am.

As I have understood more about my own community, I feel even more motivated to ensure that we as a committee open up the conversation to all who want to take part in it, with the aim to make life that bit easier for people who haven’t been as fortunate as I have.  The Pride committee does this by facilitating some fantastic lunch and learn events, on subjects ranging from coming out at work, to being parents of children who identify as LGBTQ+.  All of which are filmed by the committee members and are available on our SharePoint site.

We also want to show that JLR is on a journey not only to our colleagues internally, but also externally.  This year we have already taken part in London Pride and will be joining the Pride parade in Manchester and Birmingham.  As one of the largest employers in the West Midlands, we have also agreed to sponsor the main stage at this year’s Birmingham Pride Festival.  The organisation of which adds a huge amount of work to the committee members, all of whom have done an amazing job at stepping up to the challenge.  We’re extremely grateful to the other teams in JLR who have got behind the plan and continue to support us in delivering what will be an amazing event – so thank you!

I hope by sharing my experience of being a member of the Pride committee over the past months, it shows the understanding that can be gained by opening up the conversation and looking at the world from other people’s perspective.  It’s fascinating and enriching, if not at times challenging to self-reflect.

If you have any questions, or want to get involved, please reach out either directly to me, or to the fantastic JLR Pride committee on jlrpride@jaguarlandrover.com.

Slovakia

Jaguar Land Rover supports students on education programme with DSA in Nitra

A major breakthrough came after 2018 when the Jaguar Land Rover launched production and with it the activities of its suppliers strengthened. For the purposes of practical teaching, the most modern Regional Training Centre in Slovakia will be used, equipped with top technology “Industry 4.0” designed for education.

We have joined the dual education program as early as 2018 when the first sixteen students started who will be graduating next spring. Today, the program has a total of 64 students, of whom 54 study mechatronics and 10 autotronics.

We are in contact even during the pandemic

The pandemic also affected mutual cooperation, as the students had distance learning but even then they were digitally in contact with their instructors at the plant. They used the summer months to organize the first summer academy, which was prepared by our Human Resources department in cooperation with colleagues from production technologies.

“I always like to take the opportunity to be in direct contact with our students. It is important that they have a good technical background for their studies, as they will be able to apply this knowledge in the automotive industry, which is evolving by leaps and bounds. For example, ongoing electrification brings a lot of new opportunities,” explains Russell Leslie, CEO of the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Nitra.

16 laptops for 16 students

New laptops, headphones, and other accessories worth a total of 16,000 euros should to help sixteen students of the 2nd year at their studies. They were handed over to them by representatives of our carmaker on Friday, November 19. One of them was Tony Bainbridge, Business Excellence Director responsible for innovation and improvement who stood at the birth of the cooperation with students. “I remember when I first visited the school. It was at a time when few people knew that JLR was coming to Slovakia and Olga (school principal) only knew that we were an investor, and we were looking for a partner with whom we would work in the field of education of our future employees. I said: We will definitely see each other soon – and our cooperation has been in place for 4 years already.”

“I really appreciate the cooperation we have with Jaguar Land Rover. It is a professional and intensive cooperation with experts in their profession. I am very proud that our school is a partner for the education of future experienced staff for such an important company as JLR, “said the school principal Oľga Hodálová.

Today, the private secondary vocational school DSA in Nitra is one of the most modern dual education centres in Slovakia. An important impulse for its development was the arrival of the Jaguar Land Rover, which meant a shift in the interest of the young generation of students from the Nitra region from traditional industries, e.g. food, to technology areas with high added value. This is evidenced by the fact that the most popular subject at school today is mechatronics.

 
Culture and Values, India, Responsible Business

CSR projects are the pivotal points around which the core Jaguar Land Rover values rotate

Can the progress of an individual happen without the collective advancement of the society? The answer to all these questions is “No”. In this era of cut-throat competition, excessive workloads and constant endeavour to complete daily targets, Jaguar Land Rover has not forgotten that there is a world around as well. Realizing that it has a social responsibility towards the underprivileged sections of the society and the environment where we reside, Jaguar Land Rover, through its various projects, is trying its best to promote environmental sustainability and community support.

If we have a cursory glance over the CSR policies of Jaguar Land Rover India, it can be stated that the corpus spent by the organisation on CSR activities annually, includes at least 2 percent of the average net profits made during the three immediately preceding financial years. Also, the periodic review and monitoring of CSR Policy implementation is in the hands of Governance structure. This structure comprises of Jaguar Land Rover India Board and CSR Board Committee. CSR projects are the pivotal points around which the core Jaguar Land Rover values like integrity, understanding, responsibility, unity and excellence rotate.

From crates to classrooms

The CSR Program is not restricted to any particular domain, instead it aims to contribute something in diverse spheres like Education, Health, Environment and Employability. “From Crates to Classrooms” is one of the brilliant examples of the projects undertaken by Jaguar Land Rover India, Pune. This project is a big justice to the goals of environmental sustainability and social support. Various parts of cars that arrive in wooden skids or pallets at the manufacturing centre are converted into the classroom desks by local carpenters.

Till now, several hundreds of desks have been manufactured and donated to approximately seven educational centers, in and around Pune. Young school children are also invited sometimes to have the manufacturing plant tour. This is yet again another attempt by the organization to ignite the potential inside these young minds and inspire them to achieve great things in life.

Making our ecosystem a bit greener

Jaguar Land Rover India has contributed hugely to making our ecosystem a bit greener. Close to 400 trees in Khadakwasla dam catchment area and around 200 trees in Baner, a suburb in Maharashtra have been planted. JLR has also actively participated in the “Khadakwasla dam cleaning project” initiated by NGO named Green Thumb. This project aimed to address the problem of silt accumulation in the dam due to soil erosion. Around 60 percent of the dam was filled with silt leading to reduced water storage capacity.

Sachin Bendre, HR Business partner of Jaguar Land Rover India Operations cites, “We have a plan to plant more than 1 lakh trees. Now people go to the dam on weekends as a nice picnic spot and plant trees there which is a great learning for the young generation.” He also strongly recommends, “we can launch a philanthropic initiative where every employee of Jaguar Land Rover can donate some amount to CSR fund on his/her birthday for planting trees, thereby adding some more oxygen to the environment.”

Improving local schools

The list doesn’t end here. Jaguar Land Rover India has identified 26 schools in Bhor district of Pune and built urinals and washrooms there with a promise from the schools’ administration that proper maintenance will be done from their end. Besides this, many schools have also been painted by our employees themselves.

Another stirring feat of Jaguar Land Rover India is the initiative of groundwater recharge in Pashan area in Baner. Wells used to run dry in the 70 feet high rock area as water percolation was a tough challenge here. Jaguar Land Rover India along with Municipal Corporation played a crucial role in building contours along the mountainous region and drilling multiple borewells. In a period of mere 5 months, natural filtration and refilling occurred, studding yet another bead in the success garland of Jaguar Land Rover India. Sachin Bendre states, “We can start an education program on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge. More borewells can also be built.”

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give

The fact cannot be denied that CSR Activities have provided a golden opportunity to all the employees of Jaguar Land Rover India to contribute something towards the society, environment and country which gives a boost to their self-pride and satisfaction. It is a matter of honour for them to be a part of such organisation which has pledged to lift the downtrodden strata of the society. Jaguar Land Rover India has not undertaken CSR Activities just to gain publicity, instead it has accepted CSR as a business imperative wholeheartedly. Jaguar Land Rover not just preaches but takes efforts in the direction of actualising the visions of being a societal change.