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Leaning-in on Allyship: Lessons from a decade of Pride at Avanade

  • Posted on June 1, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

As we celebrate Pride Month, I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make Avanade a place where people are encouraged and feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work – and where they can do their best work in an environment free of bias or discrimination.

My experience and perspective as one of the few Black female leaders in the technology industry has fueled my personal passion for building an inclusive and diverse culture. What keeps me inspired and hopeful for the future are the people around me, their teams, and everyone at Avanade who have worked – and continue to work – on expanding our definition of inclusivity and how to create a sense of belonging for everyone.

This year marks a decade of celebrating Pride at Avanade, and it’s given me an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come in that time. Much of the credit for our success as a company in creating an inclusive workplace has been achieved by championing people in every sense of the phrase. What started in 2013 as Avanade’s LGBTQ+ Employee Network, and was renamed “Prism” four years later, has been at the heart of our success.

Prism’s foundation is built on four key pillars: culture & community, learning & development, internal & external visibility and operations & project management. Each of these pillars help ensure that, at Avanade, we have a solid, action-oriented strategy by which we can drive positive change and see clear progress on our journey.

Of course, any strategy is only as good as the people driving it. The tireless work of our dedicated teams - aligned to each pillar, from all levels of the organization - are the real heroes driving the engine, turning that strategy into actions, and results.

And our results are noteworthy, not just in terms of data charts but in the anecdotal feedback we hear from our LGBTQ+ employees. Two years ago, for example, as part of our Pride activities, we invited LGBTQ+ colleagues to share their stories with all our employees through a series of webinars. Throughout the events we heard powerful and moving accounts of the struggles and discrimination people had endured in both their private and professional lives, but we also heard how much they appreciated the inclusive environment and support culture at Avanade. As we say here, it was a truly #AvanadeProud moment.

But while it’s worthy to look back on our efforts and recognize our “accomplishments” on the journey, we know we still have much more work to do. We must remain vigilant and continue to nurture what we have worked so hard to achieve. The positive change we create in the LGTBQ+ community goes beyond the work we are doing inside our organization, which is why I felt it was so important for Avanade to sign the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Statement on Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation in the U.S. We proudly stand with 250+ companies and business leaders across industries to voice opposition to harmful legislation aiming to restrict the rights and access of LGBTQ+ people.

I am a firm believer that employee groups like Prism provide our LGBTQ+ community with the support, voice and visibility it deserves. These groups can play a pivotal role in helping others to see their own bias and to break down the barriers that threaten to divide our workplaces, communities and the planet. While it is disheartening to see bias and discrimination continue to show its ugliness, we all have a responsibility as allies to stand up against it when we see it, hear it and experience it. I am grateful to lead an organization that is committed to unwavering support of the LGTBQ+ community, both within our walls and out in the world, and I am eager to see what progress comes in the next decade of Pride at Avanade.

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