Diversity & inclusion3 min read

BAE Systems, Black Lives Matter & Lasting Change

This interview took place as part of our Inclusion Works pulse report series, looking at how organizations can harness the momentum created by the Black Lives Matter movement to create lasting change at work. As part of the series, we interviewed leading lights in DEI to understand their approaches and key learnings that anyone can apply in their organization. Because after all, we’re stronger together.

Check out the full pulse report Harnessing the power of the BLM movement to create a lasting culture of inclusion at work.

30 minutes with Ruchi Jalla

Defence, security & aerospace, ~35,000 employees

BAE Systems, Inc. is unleashing its employees’ capacity to diagnose and redesign systemic barriers within their walls through learning and constructive conversations

Why we sat down with Ruchi Jalla

Ruchi Jalla, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, BAE Systems, Inc.

Change is coming from within at BAE Systems, Inc. Ruchi Jalla, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, shared with us that the business is drawing upon their growing capabilities.

After a series of external traumatic events over the past few years, it was clear her organization needed to be better equipped to have open, meaningful conversations in the workplace.

Following the murder of George Floyd, however, things were different thanks to important groundwork laid over the past few years. We settled in for half an hour to hear how they leveraged this groundwork and what Jalla and her teams are set on tackling next.

Immediate response

Since Jalla knows solutions to structural racism must involve the people that do the work on the ground, her team helped employees get equipped for exploratory and constructive conversations in three key ways.

Firstly, they handed their leaders and managers a guide to have the right kind of conversations.

Number one - know what problem you are trying to solve. Do your own homework and find out what the issues of systemic racism are inside your company and not just society.

To double down on existing inclusion learning resources, BAE systems resurfaced and refreshed their privilege resources. This helps individuals examine how advantage and disadvantage can create unequal outcomes in processes and activities they are close to. Since the resource is robust across levels, it nucleates awareness and behavior change up and down the business.

Thirdly, Jalla shared that pockets of expertise have been invaluable in the response. Local ‘ambassadors’ signed up to lead the way, share their perspectives and shape a dialogue for all.

Lasting change

Jalla could tell us with impressive clarity what businesses need to be doing to win the fight against systemic racism long term.

Firstly, organizations need to really know the problem they’re trying to solve. To get up close and personal with the structures that sustain inequality, she suggests people do their homework and apply critical thinking to all their processes, norms and rules.

From there, leadership teams can come up with a list of concrete actions and initiate deeper-level training to achieve their exact goals.

In previous years, Jalla reflects, inclusion has been confused with an assimilation exercise.

But it’s no longer about helping people fit in.

This year’s events are a wake-up call to challenge systems, processes, policies and more. We have to take a much more critical look at how we got to be in the situation we are in, Jalla urges. We have to start changing the rules.

Three lessons from BAE Systems, Inc

✅ Do your homework about issues inside your organization — while learning about issues in society are important, you must look inside your walls to make a change.

✅ Invite people to sign up as local ambassadors and let them shape your approach and teach others. Note — efforts for change must be shouldered across races so don’t expect your employees of color to do all the work

✅ Educate your people about privilege to help them critically think about which rules and norms produce unfair outcomes.

Hive Learning offers free learning resources about privilege. Visit this link for a taste.

About Hive Learning Pulse Reports

Hive Learning Pulse Reports are a series of bite-sized action-oriented pulse checks reporting on the most pressing challenges inclusion leaders face.

Our goal is to uncover the root cause and playback powerful tactics the world’s most innovative leaders use to put inclusion into action on the ground, every day. Because when we learn together and from each other, we can all make progress faster.

If you have a particular challenge that you’d like to see addressed in our next round of reporting, or you’d like to participate in our latest report, get in touch here.

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