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Saptarshi Mallik at Pride parade

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With virtual Pride celebrations underway across the globe, we stand together in solidarity against discrimination of all forms.

In this celebration of love—in all its guises—we’re reminded of how cultivating a culture of equality sets us free to live openly and authentically, both at home and in the workplace.

Meet Saptarshi Mallik, Test Engineering Senior Analyst at Accenture in India. Through his story of self-acceptance, Saptarshi talks about how respect and professionalism in the workplace gave him the courage to face the world.

Seeking self-acceptance

It took me a long time to accept myself.

I grew up in a small town called Hooghly on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. I always knew I was different from the other boys—whether it was in the classroom or the playground. I knew that homosexuality was a “thing,” though I didn’t really understand what it meant to be gay. Those were happy days, when I was oblivious to my own reality.  

Everything began to change as I entered high school. All of a sudden, boys became conscious of what they wore, how they carried themselves and how they were with girls. It started to get more and more difficult to fit in. I often felt fake, lonely and misunderstood.

In the process of coming to terms with my reality, I found myself spiraling into the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, in that order.

Coming out

When I came out to my friends in 2017, I told them everything—about my depression, my sexual frustrations and feelings of rejection. They supported me wholeheartedly, and with their help, I mustered the courage to open up to my parents.

I was just waiting for the right moment.

That same year, I got a fantastic opportunity to join Accenture as an Onshore Quality Assurance Tester on Dovetail Systems, delivering for a leading local bank in Dublin, Ireland. My bags were packed and I was about to leave for the airport. Minutes before the taxi arrived, I took a deep breath and told my parents.

As they say, “Time is the greatest healer.” By the time I was back from Dublin, they had come to terms with my status, which was a great relief.  

Taking control

Working in  Dublin for a year was a life-changing experience. It’s such a vibrant, liberal city for the LGBT+ community. I participated in a Pride parade, made friends with people from my community and simply experienced the joy of being free.

I focused on work, steered my career and delivered outstanding results for the bank. After returning to Bengaluru in 2018, I continued my career with Accenture and was chosen as an Off-shore Module Lead, responsible for quality assurance efforts and managing a talented team of 10 testers.

It’s amazing how comfortable and safe I felt within our company environment. And despite all the emotions I had previously experienced outside of work, here I was free to be myself, to grow and flourish.

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Knowing that equality is a top priority for Accenture made me feel unafraid to come out. 

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Equality makes a difference

Working as a Testing Engineer, developing my IT skills and growing my career, helped me stand on my feet and instilled the confidence I needed to be my true self. My parents were very happy to learn that I’m part of an organization where professional conduct and respect for LGBT+ employees is the norm.

From our professional development programs such as LGBT Leaders Learning to inclusive policies and equal benefits, equality is top priority for Accenture. In fact, seeing this made me realize that I didn’t have to be afraid of coming out.

Accenture’s growing network of 117,000 allies around the world are vocal, visible and active supporters of the LGBT+ community. They give me the courage to face everyone at work or in my personal life without wearing the mask that I had been wearing for so long.

Outside Accenture, I feel a lot more can be done for the LGBT+ community in India, especially in terms of creating education and employment opportunities for the transgender community. Our community stands united to ensure that we get more opportunities, visibility, acceptance and social respect.

For those still trying to find their way, I want to say that coming out is a long and difficult process, so take the time you need. First, accept yourself for who you are and then come out to the ones who matter to you most. And don’t ever give up on your education, as it will help you stand up for yourself and build a great life.

Read more stories from our people across the world talking about their personal journeys of self-discovery.

Be your true, authentic self and do work that makes a difference. Find your fit with Accenture.

 

Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

Saptarshi Mallik

Test Engineering senior analyst, Bengaluru, India

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