"Companies should make LGBTIQ+ awareness and community activities mandatory and make it part of their cultural DNA to enforce that people who identify themselves as LGBTQI always feel at home." - Timona Borhanuddin, RAHMbassador
"Today, I am OUT, LOUD and PROUD of being successful in my career, owning up to being bisexual and achieving it all on my own terms."
- Timona Borhanuddin (finalist at RAHM Contest 2019, now RAHMbassador)
Karolina: Hallo Timona, thank you so much for being an active RAHM Community member! You have participated in RAHM Contest in 2019 and later you have decided to become RAHMbassador. Please, tell me what made you decide to actively support LGBTIQ+ RAHM community?
Timona: Yes, I was a finalist at the RAHM Contest in 2019, hosted by Commerzbank in Berlin. Right after entering the venue, I knew this was a place I can be myself and voice out my opinions without fear of hate or any sort of discrimination. Working the whole day on challenges with such an inspiring peer group was a learning experience. Additionally, the instant feedback rounds with LGBTIQ+ executives from various backgrounds and expertise helped me grow as a person for my future leadership career. The positive vibes and energy that was created that day through the RAHM members and leaders motivate me till today in every pitch and client workshop I walk into. Creating an inclusive and hate-free environment helps all individuals to be themselves and put their best version on the table. That’s what motivates me to support the LGBTIQ+ RAHM community for it to grow and reach out to more young professionals and executives and enrich this network.
Karolina: Thanks to you, Accenture DACH is our Proud Host this year. What are the biggest challenges LGBTIQ+ students must face, while starting their career? Do you think that being able to be who you are in a workplace results in better performance and happier life?
Timona: I am proud that Accenture DACH gets to host RAHM Digital Contest 2021. Most LGBTIQ students or young professionals starting in a new company face the challenge of getting to know the company culture. Typically, you want to do your best and not give your employer any reason for any sort of negative evaluation, so you try to fit in and integrate. I think it is extremely crucial for any new employee to get rid of that fear within their companies. That is why at Accenture we advocate to be yourself and bring your authentic version to work. And yes, to answer the second question, it is extremely important to be able to be who you are. You spend about 5 days a week at work, meaning 75% of your time you spend with colleagues and it is the most important to feel comfortable and at ease. If that means you want to talk about being queer, then that’s a part of you - you should be able to talk about it comfortably.
Karolina: Having your experience, what advice would you give your younger self?
Timona: Simple advice – have more courage to question the stereotypes and keep breaking them. Being raised in Bangladesh by a conservative Muslim family, I was grown up with an education on how to be the perfect housewife for a man. As a daughter my role was to please my parents and get married. As a female my role was to be a good girl and bear kids for the generation to grow. Coming from a Bangladeshi culture, my role was to always look after my elders, family and not think about myself. It took me a long to question all those stereotypical roles and ask myself what do these roles mean for me and have the courage to thrive for what I want and is healthy for myself. All these roles are still part of me, but I learned to create a new version of myself. I wish I had the courage to break every stereotype sooner, but as they say better late than never.
Today, I am OUT, LOUD and PROUD of being successful in my career, owning up to being bisexual and achieving it all on my own terms.
Karolina: I’ve recently read that Accenture commits to reach 50% of women by 2025. Do you think that companies should also have % goal for LGBTIQ+ of the employees? Why?
Timona: Yes, Accenture commits to reaching 50% of women by 2025. But I find it is a bit different to stating your LGBTIQ+ Status. Our sexual orientation is not a mandatory field in any identification papers, driver's license, etc. and, in my opinion, it is intimate information that everybody should have a choice to decide if they want to share. If LGBTIQ status becomes an official measurement for any company, they will enforce their employees to share that information which should not be the case.
Nevertheless, companies should make LGBTIQ+ awareness and community activities mandatory and make it part of their cultural DNA to enforce that people who identify themselves as LGBTQI always feel at home
Karolina: How, in your opinion, would the corporations change in upcoming years when it comes to LGBTIQ+ diversity?
Timona: With debates about inclusion and diversity going on around the world and across all companies, this topic has gotten a lot of attention. Leadership has not only noticed but also realized that having an inclusive and diverse culture boosts employee satisfaction as well as company performance. Thus, I believe, various changes will be upcoming starting from changes in recruitment processes to internal development and career programs enabling and fostering the next generation workforce to be themselves.
Apply for the RAHM | The LGBT+ Leadership Contest 2021: Learn more about the contest!