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At Accenture, everyone can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

February 20, 2023

Stewart Baxter is the Executive Sponsor for Pride at Accenture ANZ as well as a Financial Services Industry Lead with Accenture Song. He reflects on the ways in which Accenture is committed to an equal workplace, where everyone can be authentic at work.

I’m proud to be the Executive Sponsor for our employee network, Pride at Accenture, which supports our LGBTIQ+ employees and the broader LGBTIQ+ community across ANZ. I’m equally as proud that our work is recognised externally too through our involvement in the Australian Workplace Equality Index. We’ve been awarded Platinum Employer status for the last six years and the Highest-Ranking Private Sector Employer of the Decade for 2010-2020, which is testament to all the progress we’ve been making in this space over the years.

At Accenture, we know that inclusion and diversity is incredibly important for creating an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves at work and helps ideas to flow freely. It’s also important when it comes to delivering work for clients. When we are assembling teams at the proposal stage, we look at the mix of experiences, cultures, genders and ages, challenging ourselves to bring diverse perspectives. This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise, it’s important and it helps to ensure we are delivering value to clients and bringing them the best of the firm.

In this article, I share my own story as well as those of some of our Pride at Accenture team members and how Accenture empowers us to be our true selves at work.

At Accenture, everyone can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

The most impactful thing I can do is be a visible, out gay leader so people see it’s possible for themselves

When I first joined Accenture, the visibility of the Pride network really surprised me. There’s notices in the lunch room, ally training, a newsletter, regular events and a real community. Prior to working for Accenture, I hadn’t been comfortable being an out gay man at work, and I’d do things like use gender neutral pronouns to refer to my partner (I probably wasn’t fooling anyone).

Seeing all the Pride network activities at Accenture made me feel confident to gradually come out to colleagues. I’ve since taken on the Executive Sponsor role for the Pride network. I did this because I think the most impactful thing I can do is be a visible, out gay leader so people see it’s possible for them too.

The Pride network in ANZ is a force. We have around 30 active members that make everything run like clockwork, as well as over 1900 allies, which is incredible. My role as Executive Sponsor is to elevate our agenda and make sure we’re getting what we need from the executive team. A recent success was the introduction of Gender Affirmation Leave for our transgender employees – although this only helps a small number of people, it creates a really profound impact for them and helps them to live the lives they want. This is part of our suite of benefits, such as parental leave and assisted reproduction leave which are available to all employees regardless of gender.

I also sponsor the work we do to create impact in the community. For example, we’ve recently had a team implement Salesforce for Equality Australia and helped Out for Australia to refresh their strategy and plan for the next three years. I’ve been invited by clients to get involved in their inclusion and diversity programs, sharing my perspective on LGBTIQ+ advancement and taking part in client events. Being able to take what Accenture is good at – strategy, experience, digital and technology – and employ it to do some good across the LGBTIQ+ community is something that I love.

At Accenture, everyone can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

Joining Pride at Accenture as an ally helped me discover and explore my sexuality in a safe space

Rachel joined Accenture in 2014, and got involved in Pride at Accenture as an ally a few years later. Rachel says, “It was partly through my involvement in the Pride network that I realised that I had been exposed to ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ my whole life. I came to recognise that I’m bisexual and some of the first people I came out to were in the Accenture Pride network. Over time, I’ve increased my involvement in Pride at Accenture, to now being the co-lead since late 2020.”

When Rachel was in a heterosexual relationship or single, she says there were less opportunities to come out 'casually', but since she’s had a female partner, Rachel has felt very comfortable talking about her and her involvement in the Pride network. “One challenge I experience is that people assume that because I have a female partner that I am gay. I wish people would not be so quick to jump to conclusions.”

Rachel says she makes the effort to embed inclusion and diversity into her work each and every day. “One of my favourite examples was when I had to write a ‘day in a life’ scenario for a project. I gave all the characters gender neutral names and a client noticed and complimented me.”

When it comes to being an ally, Rachel says “It means constantly learning, acknowledging what I don’t know, and educating myself. Being open to understanding different experiences and perspectives, talking to people and coming to events all help to make Accenture and our broader community a more inclusive culture.”

At Accenture, everyone can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

The Pride network helps to shape an inclusive culture by accepting anyone as a member

Just a couple of months after joining Accenture in late 2022, Jenna learnt about and joined the Pride at Accenture network. She says all of the employee resource groups, like Pride at Accenture, are a great way to make new connections and do good for the community, both within Accenture and externally.

One of the things Jenna loves about the Pride network is that it’s open to anyone to be a member, which helps to shape an inclusive culture. “Whether you are part of the LGBTIQ+ community or an ally who wants to show support, everyone is able to join. It’s a great place to feel welcome, warm and invited – and the events are super fun! For example, we recently had the Midsummer Pride March which I attended with my girlfriend. We also run ally training and people who complete the training get a rainbow lanyard, which is super cute and a great way to visibly show your allyship with queer people around the office.”

To Jenna, being an ally means being her authentic self, leading by example and showing that you can be ‘out’ in the workplace, and being there for friends and colleagues who are queer. Jenna says that she’s able to speak about her relationship with her girlfriend in the same way that any colleagues do and is not treated any differently.

Jenna says, “Ultimately, anyone can be an effective and supportive ally by educating themselves about the different spheres of sexuality and gender. By putting in just a little bit of effort, you can play a role to help everyone feel comfortable and safe to be their authentic selves at the workplace.”

At Accenture, everyone can be themselves, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression

Accenture made me feel comfortable to share this part of myself

Before Jamie Lea had joined Accenture, they had used they/them pronouns in their personal life for years, but not in the workplace. “When I saw people like me through the Pride network at Accenture, and knowing that I had the full weight of Accenture behind me, it helped me to feel comfortable to show this part of myself and know that it wasn’t going to impact my career. Since coming out at work I’ve had nothing but support from people expressing how pleased they were that I’ve felt safe to do this.”

Jamie is also an active member of the Baby Pride network, which is specifically for analysts and senior analysts. “I’ve been the Ally Training lead for Baby Pride, helping to run training and share resources on how allies can show their support.”

As part of Baby Pride, Jamie has also helped to coordinate events like a trivia event on Transgender Day of Awareness, as well as making pronoun pins available in the office. “I’m pleased to see a growing number of people, of all gender identities, sharing their pronouns in email signatures,” they say.

Bring your true, authentic self to work and transform the world with the work you do everyday. Learn more about Pride at Accenture. 

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Stewart Baxter

Financial Services Industry Lead - Accenture Song