is part of PwC's Assurance Academy, working in Geneva. Valentin is a member of PwC’s GLEE network, an Inclusion & Diversity initiative for homo-, bi- and transsexuals as well as their allies.
GLEE stands for Gay, Lesbian and Everybody Else. Within the scope of this business network, we join together on a single international stage to share and champion the interests of our LGBT colleagues – for a work environment that celebrates each hue of the sexual spectrum.
Valentin on LinkedIn
Published on 14 June 2018
At PwC, I feel good and can be myself. I see that people are inclusive and open on this topic; most of them would happily join a GLEE event and support the values and goals we have. I think it is great to be part of such a work environment and to be given the chance to improve it if we see an opportunity to do so.
There are always exceptions of course. These help us to understand where we stand as a team, as a company, and how far society has come today. In my current field of work – in what some used to consider to be a misogynist, homophobic and conservative environment – I was impressed to discover that these preconceptions are wrong. It is not often the case and I even surprised myself by discussing these topics with my client. Being part of PwC already made me question myself extensively, especially about these uncovered biases.
However, as a person who is involved in these topics and who is very sensitive about LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Intersexual) issues, I do not always feel I have support in my daily life or it is, at least, not visible.
Unfortunately, both within and outside PwC, it is the case that there is simply no support. Sometimes it is about rights for all (civil marriage, adoption, blood donations, etc.) and, sadly, sometimes it is about people specifically. In our society, especially in companies like PwC, it is unacceptable that people are singled out for who they are, and I am happy that our management is of the same opinion.
The number of unsupportive people has fortunately decreased in recent years. That said, the sticking point nowadays is that most people lack awareness of the LGBTI issues they could get behind. I think that they are indifferent to the cause or back it without knowing the extend of the issues we are talking about or even what the issues our community is facing are – even locally.
The easiest answer is obviously: “get involved”! Nevertheless, I know and I understand that this is not always easy.
When we organised the Pride in Valais in 2015, the experience of one of the people who helped us arrange the event touched me. She experienced homophobia at work – despite being a straight woman – just because she was helping us. She had to face despicable comments, friends turning their back on her and mean stares; it was hard for her to handle it. In the end, though, the experience had a big positive: living through this situation made her aware on the social issues LGBTI are facing. Most people do not realise it, but social pressures are sometimes quite high.
If getting involved is not your thing, try to at least be aware of what people in our country have to face.
For example, did you know that two-thirds of the young people who attempt to commit suicide do it because of their sexual orientation or gender identity? Did you know about the gaps between registered partnership and marriage? Are you aware of the terrible situations affecting the LGBTI community, such as what is currently happening in Chechnya?
There are so many ways you can become aware of the issues that some of us are facing. Becoming interested in the topic is the first step. Then, paying attention to related articles, reading specific media, following the work of related associations, speaking about it with LGBTI people and allies are some ways to stay informed and becoming more aware.
In the end, you can get involved by outwardly showing your support and helping us to solve these important problems to build a diverse, loving and caring society. Very small steps could be taken, such as using inclusive language (talking about a partner/lover instead of a boy or girlfriend for example), taking part in the Pride event, putting a straight ally sticker on your laptop, or attending events hosted by ally groups.
My favourite would probably be act with integrity, for many reasons. Related to today’s topic, I think that this value includes speaking up about inappropriate behaviour we can encounter in our daily lives. This can help raise awareness of how LGBT people’s rights are still not being respected, and find long-term solutions to many of the problems they face.
We want to have a true team, a team in which all employees at PwC feel welcome and appreciated. Inclusion in this context means a working environment that encourages different points of view and welcomes the contributions of all employees, regardless of their gender, origin or sexual orientation. In such an environment, they will be able to grow both on a professional and a personal level. The basis for this is our Ethics Code; it creates the necessary trust. Moreover, it encourages a corporate culture that favours and embraces integrity, objectivity, work ethics and competence.
Every business line has its own diversity network of colleagues from different departments and levels. These networks tackle relevant topics in conjunction with Inclusion & Diversity. For example, the Tax & Legal network currently deals with the question of how we need to diversify our skillset in view of the steadily increasing use of artificial intelligence.
Our credo is: We give flexibility and expect it in return, so that we can create a win-win situation not only for our clients, but also for our employees and for PwC Switzerland.
Partner Assurance & Diversity Leader, PwC Switzerland
Tel: +41 58 792 96 95