For 42 years, Riley Poldek lived as a man. Now she identifies as a woman. Riley is no different than every other person at Accenture: To be successful at work—and in life—it’s vital to feel respected and empowered to be your true, authentic self.
While Riley is still in the middle of her journey, one thing she doesn’t have to worry about is the full acceptance and support of her colleagues or her employer. She realized that after coming out to her co-workers. When she first made the decision to tell her story at work, she was hesitant and a bit scared—even though she expected support from supervisors.
“When I told leadership, their reaction was, ‘How can we help?’ My being trans didn’t matter at all. Me feeling good about myself did,” she says. Buoyed by this encouragement, she told her team about her transition.
“Truthfully, I figured this would create issues between some of us, and I was so wrong. I got genuine tears from some people. The outpouring of support was pretty awesome.”
Prior to making her announcement, Riley sought advice from Human Resources. They put her in touch with the Accenture Gender Authenticity Program’s national lead and a local advocate. This program helps employees who are considering transitioning by offering education about our HR benefits in the US and Canada, as well as support to guide them throughout the process. That led to connections with other transgender employees and a whole new support system. She has recently become a co-lead for the Gender Authenticity team with two other people.
Concerned about health benefits for transgender employees, Riley was happy to learn of the extent to which her transition would be covered. Today, she works with the Gender Authenticity Program and the Pride at Accenture network—with more than 24,000 “LGBT Allies” in nearly 50 countries around the world—serving as an LGBT ambassador to further the company’s mission to advance a fully open and accepting workplace and to advance benefits for LGBT employees.
While Riley is living as herself authentically all the time, her journey is still not complete. She still seeks support from her friends and allies—in her personal life and at Accenture—to act as an important part of her support structure while transitioning and beyond. She appreciates the culture and acceptance she’s found in her workplace.
“I’ve never had an issue with anyone at Accenture,” she says. “I’ve always been treated with respect, as our core values dictate.”
While progress has been made toward the acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community, more can be done. Accenture is dedicated to advocating equality for all, creating an environment of inclusion, embracing, celebrating and empowering all forms of diversity, every day.
See how Accenture is committed to ensuring an inclusive environment for our LGBT employees across the globe.
Find an opportunity with Accenture, and join a team that’s ready to empower you to be your true authentic self.
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