(Introduction by Tricia Driver)
“Having worked as part of our Active Inclusion team for almost a year, one of the things which hits me time and time again is how important the “Active” part of the programme’s title is. It can be really tempting to think that just being good people and doing the right things is enough to make everyone feel included. In fact, for those who feel “on the outside”, a lack of explicit confirmation from those “on the inside” that they are welcome and included can lead to real fear about how they will be perceived, and a completely understandable reluctance to be open.
Inclusion is so much more than just an absence of exclusion. It is a proactive, consistent and concerted effort to articulate that everyone is included, and to share our stories and experiences, so that everyone knows that they are welcome, and able to truly be their real selves at work.
One of the brilliant things about my role is that I meet some incredible people who are truly generous in sharing their stories, even when it doesn’t always feel comfortable. Below, our colleague Eloise shares her story of her fears before coming out as trans, and the positive experience which followed.
I found Eloise’s story very moving, especially the fears (which turned out to be unfounded) that she experienced before coming out. Eloise’s story reminded me again of the responsibility we all have to keep articulating that everyone is safe to be their authentic selves at work. Her courage in coming out, in being her real self at work, and in sharing her story is truly inspirational.”
Tricia Driver, UK Active Inclusion Team
Trans @Capgemini – A Positive Story, by Eloise Bouko
Hi I am a solution architect working for Capgemini Belgium and I am Transgender. The T in LGBT
From November 2015 I have been undergoing sessions with a Sexologist from the tremendous team in the Gender Institute, Belgium.
It was during one of the sessions this year where it all came clear to me. I found one question my Sexologist asked me particularly liberating and made me understand that in fact, all my life I was fighting the fact that I am Transgender. The fact that all my life I was yelling to myself that I was not a boy, that I was not in the right body.
So I decided to give up my fight, lay down the weapons and just embrace who I really am. I started informing my network, which to my surprise was larger than I imagined, and who reacted positively to my coming out.
Would I be able to keep my job, would they accept me the way I am?
The thing I started to worry about was would I still be able to keep my job, still be able to keep paying the bills that were bound to come my way as I proceeded with my transition? Worry if my work colleagues and my job would accept me the way I really am. I had to know if I would have to look out for a new employer or not…
That’s the moment I contacted OUTfront. Through a quick look for LGBT on the Wiki of Capgemini, I learned that it wasn’t very advanced outside of the UK, and the fact that there was no such initiative within Capgemini Belgium worried me even more. I immediately got the response of Jane Steed at OUTfront when I asked if they had experience of Transgender people in Capgemini, who had also underwent transition and if they lost their jobs, or more hopefully, if coming out as Transgender is accepted in the all inclusion policy of Capgemini.
The response I’ve got was reassuringly positive. In fact, not only had they experience on the matter, but they had even written a procedure around transitioning. OUTfront put me in contact with Laura Gardner, with whom I had a pleasant talk and she proposed to me that she would make contact with the HR management of Capgemini Belgium anonymously without saying my name, but stating that there was one employee in Belgium wanting to come out as Transgender. She did this and when I received Laura’s reply I was a little bit emotional reading it.
You cannot imagine what a relief this was
The mail said that she contacted HR management and that they confirmed it was not a problem; I would not lose my job and if I would like to have a chat about it with them I could….Wow!!
You cannot imagine what I relief this was. After that I did have a conversation with HR and also with my Service Line manager and counsellor. At the client site I worked at, I had conversations together with the account manager and all with the same result: positivity and support.
Meanwhile I started taking hormones as of 8th of December 2016. I was very excited to have a go from Capgemini and the Client to start working as a woman as of 2nd of January this year. The result is that I am full of energy, being able to be my real self, being able to express myself as me, is so liberating that it gives me wings. I am even more the energetic colleague that I was before, always happy to go to work, not obliged anymore to dress like a man, all woman now!!
I thank OUTfront for being there and quietly existing within Capgemini, thank god I found you. I don’t know how I would have made that first step to be able to become my whole self within work otherwise.
So I hope my testimony helps to make it clear the importance of OUTfront’s existence and how it can help people to come out from where ever they are and to be there to reach out when help is needed for LGBT matters.
Many thanks to OUTfront UK and all who drive this initiative.