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.

Diversity & Inclusion, Powertrain, PRIDE

‘The work that the PRIDE network is doing allows colleagues to be honest about who they are.’

Powertrain Software Engineer, Elena talks about her career journey at Jaguar Land Rover and her invaluable work as the Communications Co-Lead for our PRIDE network.


‘I was studying for a degree in Computer Science when I first got an undergraduate placement with Jaguar Land Rover. I then joined the graduate scheme which allowed me to get experience in many areas of the business and now I’m working in Powertrain In-house Software. I’ve been involved in numerous projects including verification and testing of software, and calibration of EV Software, which involved looking at how we deliver software packages, and how we deploy the tooling of software and our cloud-based infrastructure. This project has been a favourite of mine.


I’ve received a lot of support in my time in the business – both from my manager and from the company networks I’m involved in. I recently spoke at the internal Women in Engineering conference as part of a Diversity & Inclusion panel.


Also, our PRIDE network is phenomenal. Through this network, I hosted a lunch and learn about gender identity and the contacts and support I received after this was amazing. The work that the PRIDE network is doing allows colleagues to be honest about who they are. Through lunch & learns, events such as Birmingham Pride and working with external agencies – we are constantly giving visibility to the LGBTQ+ community.


Something I am proud of is seeing ‘Driving Pride’ be born of the efforts of a member of our Jaguar Land Rover PRIDE committee. This is a new network that aims to provide a safe and supportive space for all LGBTQ+ people within the whole automotive sector. Through this network colleagues from different companies can share our approach and strategy to making people feel comfortable at work and help them to be themselves.’

To find out more about exiting opportunities in our Powertrain team, click here.

Culture and Values, Diversity & Inclusion, Home Page, People, PRIDE, Responsible Business

Pride was the first of our many networks to be set up within the business and getting involved in it has made me hugely passionate about my role in D & I.

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‘Our Network was set up as an informal group in 2017. I was originally involved in setting it up. It’s something I am extremely passionate about and felt it was something that the business was missing, and colleagues could benefit from.

When we started the group, we attended Student Pride and, in talking to other companies there, it became clear that as a business it would be something we could really make a difference in.

We soon formed a committee and had a launch event where over 150 colleagues attended. Over the years we have developed a Network that is made by employees for employees. We attend and support Birmingham Pride and celebrate important dates such as National Coming Out Day. The network has become an integral part of the business which is a real testimony to its importance. We are also Stonewall Diversity Members which has allowed us as a business, to become more inclusive for LGBTQ+ colleagues.

Pride was really the first of our many networks to be set up within the business and getting involved in it has made me hugely passionate about my role in D & I. All our networks help colleagues meet other people in the business that you otherwise may not get the opportunity to meet.

There are some super passionate people involved across the business and it’s amazing what you can achieve with a small group of likeminded colleagues.

Working from home during lockdown has had its challenges but we have kept our networks together with virtual events such as Lunch & Learns – which are open to the whole business, and we encourage Allyship so that anyone can join any network and find out more.’