Ryan Dewey, 747/767 tool liaison engineer, came to work at Boeing three years ago and immediately felt like he fit in.
“I instantly saw diversity where I hadn’t seen it before,” he said. “I always had this anxiety at job interviews; I wondered if I would get hired if the hiring managers knew I was gay. At my Boeing interview, the first person I met was a female engineer, and the interview panel was so diverse, it made me want to work for Boeing even more!”
Dewey, along with more than 100 other Boeing employees, joined more than 6,000 attendees from around the world at the 2018 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Seattle, where Boeing was the event’s first-ever Host City Sponsor. The three-day event focused on celebrating the progress that has been made and continuing the work to end discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) people in the workplace.
“I feel really proud telling other people that I work for Boeing,” Dewey said. “At events like the Out and Equal summit and this year’s Seattle pride parade, I look around and see all the Boeing employees supporting this mission and I am proud to be one of them.”
In his keynote speech at the summit’s opening plenary session, John Blazey, vice president of Boeing Global Engagement, shared an emotional personal story with attendees. He acknowledged the historic and ongoing efforts made by the LGBTQ community and their allies to make the workplace equitable for all people.
“I haven’t had to confront flagrant disrespect in my workplace or be denied a service or promotion because of who I am,” Blazey said. “But we all know someone who has. Just look around you to see those invisible scars. Together as a united front, we have the power to bring change. Together we are making a difference. Together, our future is bright.”
Through the recently launched Boeing Behaviors, the company is working to create the kind of culture where employees feel valued, respected and want to stay.
“As an executive who is comfortable being authentic, including being transparent about being gay, I aspire to create an inclusive workplace where the best people know they matter and belong,” said Michael Cox, Boeing’s Global Head of Talent. “Through our participation in the 2018 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, we are continually demonstrating that top, diverse talent belongs at Boeing.”
Understanding the importance of engaging and valuing its workforce, Boeing has long been committed to creating an inclusive workplace and equal opportunities for all employees. Under the guidance of Tim Keating, executive vice president for Government Operations, The Boeing Employees Pride Alliance (BEPA) works to drive LGBTQ-friendly changes in company policies and in the work environment by providing support and networking opportunities for its members, and promoting activities within Boeing that raise awareness about the LGBTQ community.
Looking back, in 1999, the company began offering health care benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Boeing employees – something that, at the time, only 10 percent of businesses were doing. Starting in 2019, parents – including same-sex parents – will receive 12 weeks of paid leave per birth, surrogacy, adoption or foster placement and will be reimbursed for eligible adoption expenses up to $10,000.
And it’s this mix of industry leading employee programs and benefits packages that resonate with employees like Health Services Senior Manager Deborah Smith.
“This kind of support really is life-changing for some people,” said Smith. “It’s about being your true authentic self and living a healthier, happier life.”
And she wants more people to know about it. “Boeing is playing an active role in our society by supporting employees like this and creating diverse, inclusive workplaces where people feel safe and welcome at work.”
By Jason Capeheart and Rachel Ayres