Meet four of our FY24 Global Inclusion & Diversity Award winners

  • Posted on November 8, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Meet four of our FY24 Global Inclusion & Diversity Award winners

On Nov. 8, Avanade hosted our second-annual Global Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Awards to celebrate employees for their +1 contributions to inclusion, diversity and well-being initiatives. The award winners honored in this year’s ceremony are role models in their communities – people who go above and beyond to ensure Avanade is a workplace where everyone can show up as their full, authentic selves.

Curious to learn more about these role models? We spoke to four awardees from across the globe for a behind-the-scenes look at why they do what matters for I&D.

“We can only be successful if we ourselves are diverse”

Name: Andreas Schindler

Job title: Executive, Country Manager

Location: Switzerland

Winner of…the Global Door Opener Award for his work as Executive Sponsor for the European chapter of DiversAbility (Avanade’s disability-focused employee network) as well as a member of the I&D council for Austria, Switzerland and Germany. From the ceremony: “Andreas is not afraid to be vocal, and boldly supports career opportunities for underrepresented groups. Despite living in what’s considered a ‘traditional’ country, he insists on standing up for everyone and providing a safe place for everyone to progress at Avanade, without stigma, prejudice or bias.”

Why does I&D matter to Andreas?

Forty percent of Switzerland’s population has a migration background, so it’s incredibly diverse – language-wise, culture-wise, everything is heterogenous. In order to be successful in Switzerland, we have to respect that and reflect that in our own workforce. We can only be successful if we ourselves are diverse.

I think for me, the most positive experience I’ve had around I&D is the feedback from the employees and clients who think we are a very inclusive company, and people who actually decide to join believe we’re not just talking about it, but that we really are diverse. We’re successful in hiring the best women from the best universities in Switzerland, and I believe that’s because they see the value in working for a company that’s truly inclusive.”

“I enjoy bringing all of myself to work, and I&D helps makes that possible”

Name: Fredrick Douglas Williams

Job title: Senior Analyst, UX Design

Location: United States

Winner of…the North America Community Builder Award for his work coordinating events and boosting visibility as Global PR Lead for INSPIRE (Avanade’s Black employee network). From the ceremony: “Fredrick is a diversity enthusiast who aims to make everyone feel seen. Many regional employee network leaders and global executives collaborate with him for his creativity, infectious energy, passion for people and inclusionary work.”

Why does I&D matter to Fredrick?

“I never want anyone here to not be able to locate themselves in the larger context of the world. I know what it feels like to not be accepted, and to feel out of place. And so I primarily participate as a way of welcoming people from all background to Avanade.

It’s important to me because I’ve been in positions where I didn’t feel welcome, and that sense of inclusion wasn’t readily available for me. I love the fact that Avanade provides platforms like the employee networks so we can fully express ourselves. I enjoy bringing all of myself to work, and I&D helps make that possible. Here, employees here get to be their authentic selves, and I think it makes people happy.”

“You never know who needs to hear the message you’re sending across”

Name: Siri Geluk 

Job title: Consultant, Business HR

Location: Netherlands

Winner ofthe EN Chair of the Year Award for exemplary work as co-chair of European chapter of Prism, Avanade’s LGBTQ+ employee network. From the ceremony: “Siri helped set up the team and the chapter now has over 250 members. … She has coached and supported new board members, sought collaboration opportunities with other ENs and has been a visible LGBTQ+ role model inspiring and creating psychological safety for others to be themselves.”

Why does I&D matter to Siri?

“Work is such a big part of our lives and focusing on I&D helps people be their full, authentic selves. I think I&D helps change behaviors to make work more inclusive, creating that safe space where people can be who they are, or come out – for example myself, as a bisexual woman. It’s important to have visible role models to know that yes, you can make a career and be successful as the person you are. You don’t have to hide your personality or identity.

It’s also about making an impact, because you never know who is listening or who needs to hear the message you’re sending across. Sometimes you don’t get the responses you’re hoping, or maybe there aren’t many people in the room listening. But there can still be a huge impact for the person who needs to hear it – and that can be life-changing.”

“I&D defines who we are”

Name: Ong Wee Tiong

Job title: Senior Consultant, Product Management 

Location: Singapore

Winner ofthe Growth Markets Rising Leader Award for fostering a disability-inclusive workplace as leader of the Disability Inclusion Workplace Committee in Southeast Asia. From the ceremony: “As the driving force behind the Disability Inclusion Workplace Committee, Wee Tiong has been instrumental in spearheading initiatives like the People with Disabilities Awareness Campaign, autism and disability awareness talks and engagement with the Autism Resource Center – not only raising awareness, but shattering stereotypes.”

Why does I&D matter to Wee Tiong?

“I&D defines who we are. We want to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable being themselves, sharing their experiences and their perspectives, because that’s how we set everyone up for success. Take, for example, something as simple as communicating using people-first language – like saying ‘wheelchair user’ instead of ‘wheelchair-bound’ or ‘person who is neurodiverse’ instead of saying ‘person suffering from autism spectrum disorder.’ And there are other things too, like being more patient or understanding that people who are neurodiverse can be easily distracted by noise, so they may need a quiet workspace.

These things make a difference, because it’s quite important when we are interacting with our colleagues with disabilities to make sure they feel respected first. When it comes to this learning journey with our colleagues who are neurodiverse, I think we are able to learn a lot from them and become more empathetic.”

Congratulations to our full list of winners!

Global Awards 
Door Opener Award: Andreas Schindler
Inspire Innovation Award: Chrystal Tyler, Eric Ung, Rayfield Johnson and Meg Hosty
Change Maker Award: Geetha Gandhi
Courageous Storyteller Award: Riley Beavers (North America), Jed Khan (Europe), Remus Ang (Growth Markets)
People’s Choice Award: Sara Regina A Santos and Eni de Melo Pereira Souza

Area Awards 

Growth Markets – Rising Leader Award: Ong Wee Tiong
Growth Markets – Excellence in Leadership Award: Rodrigo Caserta
Growth Markets – Community Builder Award: Luciano Holanda de Menezes
Europe – Rising Leader Award: Marcel Vandueren
Europe – Excellence in Leadership Award: Rosa Fiorenza
Europe – Community Builder Award: Gianni Etzi
North America – Rising Leader Award: Maria Acevedo 
North America – Excellence in Leadership Award: Sachin Desai
North America – Community Builder Award: Fredrick Williams

Employee Network (EN) Awards 
Emerging Employee Network Chapter Award: The Europe ASG Region’s DiversAbility & Friends Network
Employee Network Chapter Engagement Award: The Europe ASG Region’s Prism & Friends Network
Employee Network Chair of the Year Award: Siri Geluk

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