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September 27, 2023

Leading with Purpose: Balfour Beatty's CEO Leo Quinn Embraces Rainbow Lanyards

Leading with Purpose: Balfour Beatty's CEO Leo Quinn Embraces Rainbow Lanyards


Balfour Beatty, a prominent name in the construction industry, is taking a bold step toward inclusivity. The Group Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, is now proudly displaying a rainbow lanyard on his company ID badge, symbolising his dedication to "visible leadership" in Balfour Beatty's mission to become a genuinely diverse and inclusive business. This seemingly small act carries profound significance, reinforcing the idea that leadership plays a pivotal role in creating a psychologically safe and inclusive work environment.

The Power of Symbolism

A rainbow lanyard might seem like a small, symbolic accessory, but it carries immense weight in conveying a powerful message. It symbolises the values of diversity and inclusion, making a bold statement that every employee, regardless of their background or identity, is welcome, valued, and respected within the organisation. Leo Quinn's decision to wear the rainbow lanyard is a visible endorsement of these values, setting a tone for the entire organisation.

Employee-Led Affinity Networks

Balfour Beatty's commitment to diversity and inclusion is not mere lip service. The company has established five employee-led Affinity Networks: Ability, Gender, LGBTQ+, Multicultural, and Neurodiversity. These networks serve as platforms for employees to connect, share experiences, and advocate for inclusivity within the organisation. Leo Quinn recently met with co-chairs from these networks, recognising the importance of engaging with and understanding the unique perspectives and needs of different employee groups.

Visible Leadership: A Transformative Concept

The concept of "visible leadership" is transformative. It underscores the idea that leadership isn't just about decision-making from the top; it's also about leading by example. Leo Quinn's decision to wear the rainbow lanyard exemplifies this approach. It's a small yet meaningful action that sends a clear message to the workforce that diversity and inclusion are not just words on paper but values that are embraced from the highest levels of the organisation.

Psychological Safety: A Fundamental Need

Creating a psychologically safe workplace is pivotal to nurturing a culture of inclusivity. Employees need to feel that they can be their authentic selves at work without fear of discrimination or bias. Leo Quinn's visible leadership helps build this psychological safety by showing that the company's commitment to inclusivity is unwavering.


In a world that is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of diversity and inclusion, Balfour Beatty's CEO Leo Quinn's decision to wear a rainbow lanyard is a significant step forward. It embodies the idea that true leadership means leading with purpose, by example, and with a deep commitment to the values of inclusivity. This small yet powerful gesture underscores that diversity and inclusion are not just aspirations but lived principles at Balfour Beatty. It's a reminder to all organisations that leadership plays a pivotal role in creating a workplace where every employee can thrive, irrespective of their background or identity.

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