Reflections as the new executive sponsor of Prism

  • Posted on September 21, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Reflections as the new executive sponsor of Prism

We are delighted to announce that Executive North America Client Services Delivery Lead – Experiences , Richard Vander Meer will be taking on the role of executive sponsor for Prism, Avanade’s LGBTQ+ Employee Network. PRISM formally began in 2013 and was our first Employee Network. The group has been focused on empowering our employees through visibility, knowledge culture, and connections as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

Let’s hear from Richard on what it means to him to be an executive sponsor for Prism and what his key areas of focus are going to be over the next few months.

In March 2019, I joined Avanade based in New York City to help shape and grow the studio business, which provides digital experiences for our clients. Throughout the entire recruitment process, I met a group of passionate people who loved what they did, loved working with their teams, and loved doing what matters for their clients’ businesses. It was an easy decision, and I didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes!” Soon after joining, I was asked to help at an I&D event to moderate a panel in support of Prism, again I had no pause in signing up! That’s how the relationship began.

It’s funny, I realized as I was moderating the panel, that this was the first time I had ever stated to a large group that I was an “out” executive. Although I am fully out, I just had never done it before. It almost felt unnatural. But knowing the impact I could have on others by being out and telling my story was a rewarding experience.

The opportunity to make a difference and lead us into the next evolution of Prism is a great honor. Taking on the role of executive sponsor for this particular employee network is a proud moment for me. For me personally, being visible in the workplace shows others that you can be out and still have a successful career. There are no limits. It also allows me to be an advocate within the company. For instance, I was on a call recently where one of our leaders was saying, “Once you see the slide with all the faces on it, you will see how diverse our leadership team is.” I respectfully spoke up and reminded the group that diversity is not always visible, and we needed to think differently. I received some behind-the-scenes comments from Prism members thanking me for speaking up. Sometimes, small things make a big difference.

The first six months will be about alignment and objective setting. We are currently just finalizing the appointment of new board members. This time will be a learning journey to understand what’s working, what’s not, where we have momentum, and where we want to set our objectives to take us beyond the next year. We will continue to push to bolster our community by encouraging self-identification and allyship at all levels across the organization. We are looking to continue to build a strong culture of belonging and trust where people can connect authentically.

As an employee network, we also want to look at broader representation across the organization, including Growth Markets, develop a deeper partnership with our Talent Acquisition colleagues, and create more awareness in terms of transgender equity and inclusion and policies affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Taking a greater leap to look forward to what might happen 10 years from now, I would like to see that we have the allyship internally we need, that we have representation at all levels of our organization and that people feel comfortable being themselves at work. Basically, our internal LGBTQ+ community at Avanade is woven into the fabric of our organization. Then Prism can continue to drive community within Avanade but also focus more on outreach into communities, on policy issues and perhaps help other companies shape a work environment that is like Avanade. My wish is for Avanade to be seen as a leader in the industry when it comes to inclusion and diversity, even beyond the PRISM network.

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