Quick-Fire Chats: Creating a Wider Sense of Belonging at Rolls-Royce

Natalie Sigona is a global champion for diversity and inclusion at Rolls-Royce. Her tireless work creating a globally inclusive environment has inspired many within the industry to celebrate talent from all walks of life to drive business success.

On 18th July 2018, Natalie will step on to the Recruitment Leaders Conference stage in London to talk about her journey defining and implementing the Global Diversity & Inclusion vision and strategy at Rolls-Royce and what she believes has impacted change across the business. Below we find out a little more about the woman behind the campaign.

An inclusive culture

“By building a culture where we care about bringing out people’s best gives everyone who works here the opportunity to realise their full potential,” Rolls-Royce’s mission statement reads. “To do this, we need a working environment free from discrimination and harassment, where all employees are treated and treat others with dignity and respect, and in which all decisions are based on merit.”

For Rolls-Royce, diversity, inclusion and innovation are both equally essential to the lifeblood of the business.  They recognise that celebrating the different ways people think and do things is the key to move the business forward, Natalie explains.

“You need an inclusive culture to drive change. There’s no point in doing it if your diverse employees won’t feel included in the workplace,” she says.

One example of a D&I enabler for change in the employee lifecycle is Rolls-Royce’s online training programme, “Recruit the Best”, which is mandatory for all hiring managers to complete ahead of interview.  This establishes best practice principles including raising awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Changing the Status Quo

Natalie has worn many hats within Rolls-Royce since joining in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she was approached by the business to take over the role of Global Diversity & Inclusion Consultant. “At first I thought the role would involve a lot of legal and compliance work and I wanted to move it more towards changing the company culture and creating a wider sense of belonging for our people.”

“I can’t stand to see our people’s affinity not celebrated and I think our leadership saw in me this passion for changing the Status Quo.”

For the past 6 years, Natalie has successfully helped Rolls-Royce move towards its vision of being a global leader in diversity & inclusion. You only have to go as far as her LinkedIn profile to see her impressive list of achievements in her current role.

“The proudest moment of my career so far was probably seeing our rainbow coloured sign published in support of our LGBT community in 2017 and our high -profile IDAHOBIT celebrations in 2018. Our LGBT culture was quite hidden in years gone by but we now celebrate seeing employees feeling confident and themselves at work.”

A different mindset

Natalie is no stranger to the challenges of shifting mindsets to making bold changes in an environment as structured as engineering. “I am a very right-brained person and it’s been particularly challenging to translate my intuitive world view in practical ways for the business.

She is passionate and proud to be a role model for the change she wants to see in the world. She has recently begun to take her industry knowledge into the sporting world, volunteering as a specialist D&I advisor to Derby County Cricket club.

For the past 9 years Natalie has had commitment from Rolls-Royce to work flexibly and as part of a job share at senior management level. “I understand the challenges of work-life balance and the trust, flexibility and autonomy I receive in this role are a key for me.” Natalie juggles two children, a life coaching business, a daily 5-mile run and charity work to keep her mind and spirit fit.

“I will be focusing a lot of my talk at the Recruitment Leaders Conference on an inside out approach to change. This includes our own mindset. We all have our filters, blind-spots and biases, but it only takes an open mindset to understand how critical diversity, inclusion and belonging is for a thriving business.”

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