Below is an article originally written by Accenture, and published on May 24, 2021. Visit Accenture’s booth at the upcoming SWE Conference to learn more and explore opportunities.
“I will take the time to mentor women on my team.”
“I will be considerate of gender identities, gender expressions, languages, cultures, traditions, nationalities, sexual orientation and skills of all people.”
“I will challenge racial stereotypes and bias.”
These are just three of thousands of pledges made by our people across the globe to foster and accelerate a culture of equality and belonging.
The world needs more “equality champions.” We are fortunate that four of the best are driving positive change at Accenture.
Meet Melissa Summers, Tamara Fields, David Fregonas, and Rica Paras. They share what drives them to be equality champions and how they walk the talk. All day. Every day.
Girls Anyone can do anything!”
Back in high school, Melissa Summers, now a Digital Corporate Services Lead, carried a backpack sporting the caption, “Girls can do anything.” But after a long and fruitful career where she demonstrated her girl power and beyond, she has since rethought that slogan. In fact, she feels it might actually propagate a stereotype that suggests otherwise. A more fitting mantra is, “Anyone can do anything.”
“I make sure there’s a healthy dialogue across all levels and roles, especially when a new idea is brought up,” says Melissa. “I’m always learning, and so my opinion is never set in stone. My door is always open, and I try my best to encourage anybody who wants to do new things.”
As inclusion and diversity (I&D) sponsor for Accenture’s IT organization, Melissa strongly believes in discouraging labels and stereotypes.
“I was labeled as ‘quiet’ early on in my career. It was wrongly perceived as a weakness. Now, I encourage my teams to recognize the strengths of individuals who make up those teams. A ‘quiet’ person or a ‘loud’ person is a multi-dimensional individual, and I strive to go beyond these perceptions and let them grow in their own unique ways.”
“I help others find their voice.”
As the Director of Operations of Accenture’s U.S. South market, the Austin Office Managing Director and Executive Sponsor of the U.S. Women’s Employee Resource Group, Tamara Fields wears multiple hats. She also serves as a coach and mentor in and outside of Accenture, helping people find their voice and preparing them for career advancement.
“When I started my career at Accenture 24 years ago, I was very insecure and uncomfortable owning my voice,” says Tamara. “I let my own ‘imposter syndrome’ hold me back from embracing who I was, my skills and my capabilities.
“I felt isolated when my co-workers did not invite me to lunch, but it never occurred to me that I could also be the one inviting others to lunch. I had great mentors who helped me along the way, who held my hand while I overcame my fears. And now, it’s my turn to do the same for others.”
When asked what stands out to her about Accenture’s journey to being one of the most inclusive and diverse companies in the world, Tamara is emphatic about two milestones: Accenture’s commitment to a gender-balanced workforce by 2025 and our unwavering stand against racism. “I feel good about working for a company that believes in justice and equality for all, a company that cares. It makes me want to do more,” says Tamara.
“Different perspectives make us bolder.”
David Fregonas, Lead of Accenture Interactive in the Middle East, strives for balance in everything, be it the next big move for his practice, working on new initiatives with new people, or his passion for sea sports, the piano and spending time with his daughter.
It’s perhaps this sense of balance that makes him value the different perspectives on his team. “I cannot imagine putting humans at the heart of a practice without it being a true reflection of human nature,” says David. “Different opinions and perspectives enable us to think bigger and bolder. Including everyone is not a ‘must-have’; it’s the right thing to do.”
David is immensely proud of the progress achieved towards equality within Accenture Interactive in the Middle East. Currently, the majority of managing directors are women. Plus, the workforce represents 42 different nationalities, true to the rich cultural diversity embodied by the UAE and KSA.
“I deserve respect; so do you.”
Rica Paras, a Solutions Architect Senior Manager for Accenture in the U.K., is passionate about delivering solutions to clients across the globe. She is equally passionate about educating people about the significance of respect and equality for all.
“I was an out transgender woman when I graduated with a degree in mathematics, top of my class and president of our math association,” says Rica. “But when I joined my first job after college, I was asked to de-transition back to male, stripping me of all my qualifications and achievements, reducing me to just my gender identity and expression. I took that and decided to educate the people I worked with on the importance of equality and acceptance, not just for myself, but to help make the lives of other transgender women easier and free from discrimination.”
Rica is an active member of Accenture’s global Pride network, which provides her with a sense of belonging and acceptance. She continues to be a strong advocate of Accenture’s core value of “Respect for the individual” in everything she does.
When accelerating equality becomes a personal imperative for each of us, the workplace truly transforms into a space where everyone thrives.
Learn more about Accenture’s commitment to accelerate equality for all.