From working parents to military veterans, GE would not be the company it is today without its employees. We created “Quick Six” to celebrate our diverse talent by asking employees six questions that uncover the unique ways that they contribute to GE and the world.

At GE Aviation, we are proud to support our LGBTQAI+ talent and strive to create an inclusive work environment for everyone. In celebration of Pride Month, we sat down with Heather Apple, Executive Product Manager, who discussed her experience with GE’s Pride Alliance and what Pride Month means to her.

1. What does Pride month mean to you?

Pride month is a celebration of living openly and authentically. It’s also a time to remember and learn from our history. I’ve been out personally for over 20 years, but you never want to forget our past and honor those who paved the way.

It’s even more exciting to see the number of friends and allies on social media or Teams calls during June. I can definitely feel a sense of belonging and excitement for the community from peers and friends.

2. GE Aviation has a robust employee resource groups, including the Pride Alliance. What has having this organization meant to you?

I helped establish the Pride Alliance in Aviation in 2005 (then known as the GLBTA) around the same time GE was officially standing up the GLBTA. The Pride Alliance has always been a space where we can continue to drive a culture of inclusion. I feel like I belong and can be open about myself and my family, but I didn’t feel that way before seeing the level of activity and support that we have with the Pride Alliance.

When we established the group, we wanted to drive a culture where people felt like they could be out and be open with their co-workers. The company supported us in writing, but we wanted employees to feel that support and connection in their cubicle and in their day-to-day interaction with co-workers. The vice president of human resources at the time, Marc Chini, became our VP support. Then, we needed to find employees who wanted to get involved and share their stories, which took some time. Eventually, people started getting involved, including Allies. It was those Allies that really helped us get this going because others really trusted their support of the organization – and they were naturally greater in number!  Also, our Executive champion at that time was the Director of Communications who really helped us grow. She enlisted some of her team tell help us tell our story.

Our first GE and GE Aviation meetings only had about 10-12 people. At our 10-year celebration, we had hundreds of people from around the globe.

Pride Alliance (formerly known as GLBTA) during first meeting in 2005.

 

Pride Alliance members (formerly known as GLBTA) at its 10-year anniversary celebration.

3. How has GE supported you, and how have your colleagues supported you?

What I’ve been surprised by is when I lean into being visible and sharing my story, I have experienced overwhelmingly positive feedback. When we need something, we receive great support. Coming to staff meetings to share our stories and talk about what the Alliance is doing has been the most beneficial. We kept showing up, sharing our story, and finding more members and Allies along the way.

4. How do you celebrate Pride month?

Typically, my family and I like to march in the Pride Parade here in Cincinnati. It’s a chance to celebrate and show that GE is supportive of our community. It’s a big celebration with our friends and family. It’s a good chance to increase visibility internally and externally. Unfortunately, the march will not be occurring this year, but we hope to attend next summer!

Above: Heather, her wife, and two daughters at the 2018 Pride Parade in Cincinnati, OH. Top: Heather with her family.

5. What is your proudest moment of being part of the Pride Alliance?

I am really proud to be an active member, and work with an amazing group of really dedicated employees who are spending their free time to help build a culture of inclusion. Most recently, I’m really proud of the virtual symposium that we put together because I know it had a significant impact and really mattered to our members. That is the whole purpose of the organization — to connect with people that need that relationship and feeling of acceptance. I’m glad that we’re refreshing and reorganizing the organization across the globe.

6. How can everyone support the LGBTQAI+ community and get involved?

Lean into the conversation, share your perspective with others, ask questions and engage with others. Those are the moments where we are connecting with one another and changing the culture.