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.