Growing up in a community that lacked acceptance for anyone who was different, Adair Gearhart knew early on that he wouldn’t be able to live an authentic life there. Facing many challenges, he made the life changing decision to uproot his family and move. “It’s been eight years and it still hurts,” Gearhart said. “I wasn’t going to sacrifice my mental health, my son’s well-being or my chance at maintaining a career by living there.” So he decided to apply for a job at Boeing Everett and moved across the state—without knowing whether he’d get the job or not.
When Gearhart first joined Boeing in 2011 as an Electrical Systems Installer, he wasn’t entirely sure how accepting Boeing was towards the LGBTQ+ community. “I was pre-transition when I first started and was just hoping for the best,” he said. “I looked at Boeing as a manufacturing, blue-collar environment and had a preconceived notion of what to expect.”
Four years into his career at Boeing, Gearhart began his transition. It was during this time his supervisor noticed he was struggling. One day she called him into her office to chat. It was then that Gearhart was introduced to a Gender Transition Lead to help him transition to his affirming gender. “My supervisor explained to me that I didn’t have to go through this alone,” he said. “Knowing she cared enough to take the time to give me that resource was really affirming and made me feel much better and safer about my decision to come out at work.”
Boeing offers employees who are transitioning from their assigned birth gender to the gender with which they identify the opportunity to work with Human Resources and the Global Diversity & Inclusion team on creating a Gender Transition Plan, which is used to create and clarify the timeline and milestones for the employee’s transition. A Work Group Meeting will also be held with the transitioning employee’s teammates and managers to provide basic information about the transition process, ensuring that everyone is equipped to support the employee in an informed, inclusive way.
Gearhart’s current supervisor, Kami Otis, also helped him facilitate his passion for outreach towards the LGBTQ+ community at Boeing. She supported Gearhart in becoming involved in several organizations supporting the community. “I encourage Adair’s desire for future growth in supporting Boeing and other companies create standards for inclusiveness workplaces,” said Otis. “He is an incredible resource for young people in his community and other Boeing employees who have questions or need guidance.”
Even though Gearhart is now able to live an authentic life, he knows that not everyone accepts who he is. “I love educational opportunities and try to establish an honest dialogue with people. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and feelings, but at work, employees are expected to behave in accordance with company policies and values. If things escalate, I know I have a support system behind me to help resolve the situation.”
At Boeing, diversity and inclusion are at the forefront of our workforce. We strive to create an environment for all our employees and customers that is welcoming, respectful and engaging, where all employees have opportunities for personal and professional development. Boeing is #PoweredByPride not only during Pride Month, but throughout the year. To learn more about our Global Diversity & Inclusion initiatives around the world, click here.