Blog

Culture and Values, Diversity & Inclusion, Early Careers, Engineering, Graduate

“We design, engineer, manufacture and market beautiful vehicles. With that comes a real sense of pride for the brand and what we do.”

Megan Howell joined Jaguar Land Rover in 2015 to study for a degree apprenticeship in Engineering. In 2021, Megan’s hard work, determination and commitment were acknowledged when she was awarded a First-Class Bachelor of Engineering degree with honours by the University of Warwick. 

At the start of her professional career as a Cost Engineer and hot on the heels of a listing in the Autocar Great Women in the British car industry 2022 initiative, Megan tells us why Jaguar Land Rover is a great place to work for Black talent.

  1. Why Jaguar Land Rover for Black talent?

Now is a really exciting time for Black talent to join Jaguar Land Rover. The automotive industry is not traditionally known for its diversity; however, Jaguar Land Rover has committed to changing this narrative. Jaguar Land Rover is the first UK car manufacturer to sign the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter and has partnered with a number of other external diversity bodies – most recently BYP. Over the next five years, Jaguar Land Rover’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy, championed by our CEO Thierry Bollore, will see the company strive to shape “a culture in which every one of our employees can bring their authentic self to work and reach their full potential”. This will be bolstered by the implementation of progressive policies, benefits and support, along with employee engagement to accelerate progress.

All of these D&I initiatives paired with our global Reimagine strategy see Jaguar Land Rover entering an era of true internal and external transformation. There is a lot of change on the horizon and more opportunity than ever before. For Black talent wanting to be part of that evolution and passionate about becoming trailblazers for upcoming BYPs, I think it’s a great place to be right now.

2. What do you like about working here?

It’s great working on two internationally recognised brands that are pioneering modern luxury. We design, engineer, manufacture and market beautiful vehicles. With that comes a real sense of pride for the brand and what we do.

I like how multi-faceted the company is in terms of the job roles, working environments and experience available. Different functions attract and cultivate different skills, personality types and ideas. It’s great seeing the cross-functional collaboration that happens to deliver an amazing end product every time.  I really enjoy that in my job role, I interface with a lot of these functions.

3. How does the REACH (Race, Ethnicity & Cultural Heritage) network enhance life at Jaguar Land Rover?

The Jaguar Land Rover REACH employee network will be celebrating its 4th birthday this September. The network exists to champion employees from all races and ethnicities to be equally represented and celebrated across Jaguar Land Rover. Racial equality is also a high priority to Jaguar Land Rover senior leaders, with a clear target to increase ethnic representation by 15% across all levels of our business by 2026. Working closely with core stakeholders across the business, the REACH network will be instrumental in creating initiatives to help Jaguar Land Rover achieve this target.

As a member of the committee and Communications Lead, I love that I get to play such an active part in Jaguar Land Rover’s journey toward becoming a more inclusive business. It is a huge amount of work but super rewarding and looking after the comms, branding and marketing activities for the network allows me to use and develop skills in an area that I’m passionate about.

We run four core types of events – Lunch & Learns (to educate and open conversations), Roadshows (to build awareness of REACH and its fundamentals around the business), Mastermind Series (to provide networking and development) and Change Makers (to improve employee work experience). We have a Yammer page and curate a monthly newsletter along with holding events and celebrations for various cultural occasions throughout the year. We have an internal mentorship scheme and also partner with local educational bodies to encourage bringing diverse talent into the business, in addition to actively encouraging the progression of diverse talent.

The REACH network has enhanced my life at Jaguar Land Rover, and I’ve heard the same from many others. I only wish I had known about it when I first joined! However, this is a part of the work we are doing with our Roadshows and partnerships with Early Careers to raise awareness. The sense of unity and reward that comes from being a member of the committee, building it from the ground up and bringing people together is amazing. As a member of REACH, I get to expand my network and meet like-minded people from across the business who want to have a more meaningful experience at work. REACH makes work feel a bit more like home.

4. How does Jaguar Land Rover empower employees?

Where applicable, Jaguar Land Rover had maintained flexibility on hybrid working after the benefits seen on wellbeing when it started during the pandemic.

Our employee-led networks help foster our culture of empowerment. If you just want to clock in, do your hours, and clock out that’s fine – but if you want to push yourself to do more there are chances to get yourself more involved.

To view our profile on BYP, click here.

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.

Digital, Graduate

‘If it means continuous improvement, someone is always willing to listen.’

Analytics Graduate Tinotenda Mutasa talks about the immersive nature of her role at Jaguar Land Rover in our Digital team. Less than a year into her time at Jaguar Land Rover, Tinotenda has picked up a wealth of key skills.

‘I never thought I would find myself in such a technical immersive role. Less than a year into the role, I can confidently say I have picked up key skills such as SQL, data analysis, agile and data wrangling. I have been involved in planning and organising lunch & learn sessions ranging from slide creation to intelligent automation. This has also given me the confidence to interact with incoming graduates and give them an insight into what the role is about, and this is only the beginning!

During my first rotation, I built and designed a Tableau-based gamification dashboard that is now being used across the business. Its main aim is to encourage engagement with the Tableau platform by simplifying the functionality that people are currently using and what functionality they could be using to maximise their Tableau capability. It also allows for a little friendly competition between peers as it has a points-based ranking system depending on function and grade. The more functionality you use, and the more frequently you use it; the more points you get on the user scoreboard – so essentially, it’s a rewards card.

I believe the gamification dashboard continues to play an important role in supporting and improving the Tableau culture and enterprise across the company. It provides links to additional training, eLearning options and access to upgrading their licences. This is a major advantage to the business as it empowers people with tools that take minimum effort to create impressive and interactive dashboards that can facilitate more efficient decision-making.

One of the most important aspects of my work here is that despite not having been here for very long, there is always an opportunity to contribute tangible results to the bigger picture. Whether my work is used internally or to help influence more important external decisions, it almost always makes an impact. More importantly, if it means continuous improvement, someone is always willing to listen.’