Originally published at rtx.com. Raytheon Technologies ranked No. 41 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.
The photo on the man’s desk showed a woman and her children. He said they were his wife and kids. But Brian Kilhoffer, a coworker, knew they weren’t.
For Kilhoffer, seeing that photo years ago at his former workplace was a symptom of a problem that continues to run through corporate culture today: The pressure on LGBTQIA+ people to fit in — a pressure so great, in some cases, that it leads them to hide who they really are.
It was also a formative moment for Kilhoffer, who is gay. While he understood why his coworker did what he did, he vowed never to do the same.
“I am who I am. Some people like it, some people don’t. But I am my authentic self,” said Kilhoffer, who now works in supply chain planning for Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies business. “I don’t want anyone to feel they have to be fake, or that they can’t look like who they are.”
For Kilhoffer, the chair of Raytheon Technologies’ newly reorganized LGBTQIA+ employee resource group, showing people they don’t have to hide their identities is one of several ways he and his colleagues are working to strengthen the company’s culture of inclusion.
The group’s other areas of focus include:
- Encouraging employees to include personal pronouns in their e-mail signatures, virtual meeting room screen names and similar places.
- Encouraging LGBTQIA+ employees to self-identify voluntarily.
- Offering voluntary opportunities for coworkers to learn about the various ways people identify.
- Providing networking and mentorship opportunities for LGBTQIA+ employees.
- Advocating for legislative protection of rights for LGBTQIA+ people.
- Advising company executives about topics of concern to the company’s LGBTQIA+ population.
The group’s ability to have direct, open conversations with executives “is kind of like they gave us a megaphone right into senior leadership,” said co-chair Amanda Green, a learning specialist at Collins Aerospace.
Green plans to use the group’s access to company leaders, particularly to relay the concerns and priorities of the colleagues she speaks with regularly. Green, who identifies as trans lesbian, hosts a weekly virtual coffee hour where fellow employees discuss the ways racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression affect their lives.
The result, she said, has been a growing network where people learn about systemic problems through the experiences of those who live them. Those conversations are useful in overcoming personal biases, and Green said they’ve helped her confront her own.
“For better or worse, it makes a difference when you know somebody personally,” she said.
She hopes to provide that same personal insight for others, particularly when it comes to matters of gender identity and personal pronouns — topics people often find uncomfortable or counter to their own beliefs.
“I’m willing to have those conversations and help people move along and open their mind — and potentially even change their mind because they now know somebody who is part of the nonbinary or trans community and is a good person,” said Green, who uses the pronouns she, he and they.
For his part, Kilhoffer is happy to discuss his identity as well — and he’ll even show the photos of himself and his husband that he has placed prominently in his Zoom workspace.
“I display my pictures to show anyone and everyone I am proud of who I am, and have never been more happy,” he said. “And I want employees out there who I have video conferences with, who live in fear as I did, to know it is OK to be yourself.”