From ‘Out’ to ‘OUT-standing’: My personal journey as a role model
- Posted on June 12, 2019
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
All my professional life, being an LGBT+ flag bearer has never been my thing. I was openly out, but I never made any extra effort to increase my visibility as a gay man. Surprisingly, I have just been awarded the LGBT+ executive role model award by an LGBT+ non-profit, l’Autre Cercle. What happened in between? This is the true story of my involvement.
In 2015, we decided locally to open the LGBT+ visibility topic during an office gathering. Accenture, Avanade’s parent company, was way more mature than we were on this topic, so we invited the Accenture French LGBT Lead Jean-Marie Boutin. As Accenture had sponsored three short videos on being out at work, the timing was perfect. These videos feature the same people commenting on what it is like to be closeted at work, coming out at work and office life after being out. Jean-Marie presented the videos, while the audience, consisting of 500 consultants, was listening attentively.
To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time the company openly talked about the LGBT+ topic in France at such a gathering. Out of the blue, our regional general manager asked me to come on stage and say a few words about Avanade’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. Instead of making the usual speech, I just said, “Statistically, there are enough LGBT people tonight to fill up a small Talent Community (TC).” The audience was so surprised that everybody burst into a collective laugh. It was the right timing and the right compelling fact: None of us knew more than 20 percent of this small TC!
In this moment, I realized that being an LGBT+ role model could help people feel at ease being openly out. Since that first visibility in 2015, the situation is improving every day with regular coming-outs. It also led to another big idea: sponsoring the Paris Gay Games in 2018.
It’s my hope that others can use my personal experience inspires and informs others who are also LGBT at Avanade and beyond. More companies today have come to appreciate our community and the extraordinary contributions we make at work and in our communities. At Avanade, we have a number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to support various special interests, including our PRISM ERG for LGBT+ employees. You can also check out such groups for “allies” and friends — and Pride Month is a great time to do it!
*LGBT+ is an abbreviation that refers to people with diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity. They include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and other sexuality, sex and gender-diverse people, regardless of their term of self-identification. The abbreviation can vary and can include additional letters, such as I (intersex) and Q (queer/questioning) or even appear in a different order (e.g., GLBTI).