It’s #ToleranceDay! We interviewed Annabella Da Encarnacao , Performance Marketing Director at Babbel & one of the TOP 10 Finalists of RAHM 2017. She told us what tolerance should be, what is the value of diversity in firms, how to take the leadership and how to engineer a good team-working.
Theo, Project Leader at RAHM : Hello Annabella, you are one of the TOP 10 Finalists of RAHM 2017 – The World’s First LGBTI Leadership Contest. Congratulations again. Which qualities helped you to achieved to the TOP 10 Finalists in RAHM 2018 ?
Annabella: One of the main challenges was to understand the dynamics of a group of people I hadn’t met before, so I think that being able to quickly identify people’s abilities, ideas, making sure to listen to every voice and put the various opinions from around the table into some semblance of order was crucial. Being able to formulate some kind of opinion in a short amount of time and putting it to the group without impose your opinion on others – basically being a good listener, mediator and presenter of a topic.
Theo: What was the most difficult challenge you faced during your career as LGBTI and woman ?
Annabella: During my career I’ve faced discrimination and sexism, unfortunately. And because of society’s prejudices, I’ve seen a lot of people struggling to find who they are – whether because of their age, race, sexual orientation or other. This is something that’s really challenging for me. I perhaps took a brave stance and developed my work personality early on; to be open about who I am, open minded and open mouthed. Not everyone is comfortable to do that, so I see other people who don’t dare to find their voice or don’t have the ability to be themselves. For me that’s really difficult.
Theo: Today is the International Day for Tolerance. According to you, what means tolerance at work for LGBTI persons?
Annabella: Tolerance means allowing 100% of people to be whoever they are, regardless of race, gender, abilities, sexual orientation or anything else. I read a statistic that 62% generation Y LGBT graduates at university go back in the closet when they start their first job*. This for me is really startling – and shows that we obviously have a long way to go still, to make sure people can be comfortable to be themselves at work.
Theo: You work in the private sector. What do you think is the added value of an LGBTI employee for a firm ?
Annabella: Any kind of diversity brings a different perspective to the reality of things in general. This is why at Babbel, we have a core belief that diversity makes us stronger. Because we have a diverse user base, it’s important to be able to understand people’s needs and build a product that works for them. So we do have a very diverse team here. This is true for any type of business and any type of diversity – it makes you able to understand the world better.
Theo: In times of Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg there exist a lot of opposing leadership styles. Who is a great leader in your eyes?
Annabella : There’s a broad range of leadership styles, and different types of leadership are needed – it just depends on the context and what needs to be done. I wouldn’t judge any style as every type of leadership can be really useful in the right situation.
For me, Ellen DeGeneres is a great role model and a leader. Her personality – at least the public one I know – is tolerant, empathetic, kind, humorous and of course, she has great dancing skills! She’s someone who isn’t afraid of being herself and is paving the road for others. These are core strengths for a great leader.
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