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Allyship: Finding Commonalities in Our Differences

Mario Lamas, Manager for Accenture Industry X, spoke to myGwork about the value of authentic allyship, what Accenture are doing to support LGBTQ+ individuals, and how non-LGBTQ+ people have become involved in their Pride network. He also provided advice to those who want to be more vocal in their allyship, and discussed what he would like to see in the future of LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in the workplace.

Please introduce yourself and describe your role within your organization.

My name is Mario Lamas. I am a manager in Accenture Industry X, which is an area that focuses on digital transformation. I'm also the co-lead for the Pride Network for the UK. 


What is your experience of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community compared to showing active allyship?

In my experience, being part of the community has always been positive. We all have our own ups and downs, but I think the community overall has been very accepting. It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, especially because I'm not natively from the UK, I'm originally from Mexico. Being surrounded by different people makes it easier to establish relationships, because you find commonalities in those differences. It's always been positive to just find people that are akin to you, that have gone through similar stories. I think it ties nicely as well with how we can show allyship inside the community.

"Just showing acceptance and support and making sure that other people know you understand what they are going through. Maybe not 100%, but that there's at least some sort of empathy about their situation."


Tell us about your role in the LGBTQ+ Network at Accenture.

I've been with Accenture for 11 years now. When I first joined the Accenture in the Mexico office, we had a small private network of around 10 people, and we had a small budget. So, I joined as event coordinator, helping to run the socials. Then when I moved to the US, it was very helpful to know that Accenture already had this network because it's a global network. Leaving this country, trying to find where I fit in, I reached out to the network. I helped to organize a few events there, and then when I moved to the UK, I did the exact same. I was running their events for two and a half years when one of the leading network positions was opened up after somebody else stepped down. And I wanted to do it, I felt like it was something that I could be good at, and that it would allow me to spread the love a little bit more, raise awareness, raise education, but also make sure that the company is still ethical. 


Are there non-LGBTQ+ allies involved in the network?

So originally, the network was split into two: the pride network, and the allies' network. But that was causing a little bit of a divide, defeating the purpose of it. So, then we rebranded as Pride to include both, for people who identify as LGBTQ+, and also for allies that just came to show their support. Accenture's global Pride community has more than 90 networks and over 119,000 allies in all countries in which we operate. This is an open programme where people can be part of the committee, helping us plan the events across the business. So, it's not a one-person job. 


Are there any particular events that have taken place that you are proud of?

This year, I was very proud that we participated in the Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh Prides. I was very proud of that, increasing the representation not only in the London office, but also in the regional ones, which was great.

We try to focus on intersectionality as much as we can, and one event that I really enjoyed that we put together was Hinduism, yoga and Pride into one single event. We did this for LGBTQ+ History Month a few years ago, because the topic was mind, body and spirit. Yoga is kind of taking a moment to be with yourself to make your better self be present, and then I was chatting with the lead of the Hinduism network, and he was telling us all about how Hinduism does the two spirits, so Hinduism and yoga go hand in hand. So, we did that event, which went very, very well, and we learned a lot from Hinduism. It was really good to see the feedback and be able to tackle challenging topics in a positive way.


What advice would you give to someone that wants to be more vocal in their allyship?

There are minimal actions that you can do that are very simple. For example, adopt more inclusive language; say ‘people’ instead of ‘ladies and gentlemen’, don't assume someone's partner's gender, things that we all can do very easily. Also, if you see something, say something. If you're in the office, and you see somebody being treated badly, if you feel confident enough, just speak to that person and say, I don't think the way that you're handling this is the right approach. If you don't feel comfortable enough, you can have a conversation with their manager.

"I try to push the message that we shouldn't be limiting these actions just to corporate events. Bring this effort with you at home, you can change somebody's life."


What improvements would you like to see being made for LGBTQ+ inclusion in the future?

My biggest dream is that we should not care anymore about it. It should be just something normal. However you decide to express yourself, it really shouldn’t matter at all, especially in the workplace. It's not related to the quality of your work. You could be the most underdressed person, maybe even in your pajamas, and be delivering the most amazing things! Just removing all of those stereotypes would be great.

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