Hear from Luke, a Digital Analyst at Accenture, about being 'out' in a high profile, high performance role...
My name’s Luke Ounsworth and I’m an Analyst working in Accenture’s Digital practice. I joined the firm in February 2016 and spent the first 12 months managing a large Internet of Things project and am now working in communications for a major public sector client.
Prior to joining Accenture, I spent several years working in the not-for-profit sector so I feel I’m in a good place to offer a bit of advice around the topic of this blog – what it’s like to be ‘out’ in a high profile, high performance role.
I must confess, I’ve never been involved in any LGBTQ society before and have never written publicly about my experiences of being a gay man. That’s not because coming out to friends, family and co-workers was easy for me so I didn’t need the support of an LGBTQ group – coming out was, in fact, one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done in my life.
Rather, it was because I didn’t start to feel truly comfortable in my own skin until I left university and began working. As such, now that I am happy in my sexuality – something made possible by working for supportive, inclusive companies such as Accenture – I couldn’t resist putting pen to paper for my alma mater to talk about my experiences of being out in the workplace.
The best piece of advice I could give to LGBTQ students and recent graduates is to be yourself. You’ve no doubt heard it a million times in a million different contexts but one of the most important lessons I have learned since joining the world of work is to make sure you stay true to who you are.
I therefore made a conscious decision when I joined Accenture that I would be open about my sexuality. I can honestly say that this decision to be my true self is the best I’ve ever made in a professional capacity. As an employer, Accenture is one of the most supportive firms when it comes to LGBTQ staff. You’ll notice this the second you enter the building from the hundreds of rainbow-coloured lanyards which employees wear to show solidarity!
This decision to be myself has already allowed me to forge very strong relationships with my colleagues – both gay and straight. These relationships have, in turn, enabled me to better perform my day job because I earn more respect from those around me when they can see that I am being genuine, honest and authentic. However, for those of who reading this who might not yet feel comfortable in your own skin, take it from me that no one in a professional environment will judge you because of your sexuality. You won’t be held back because of who you choose to date. Rather, you’ll go further in your career when you show your colours (rainbow or not!) and remain true to yourself.