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Inclusion of LGBT Individuals in the Workplace: Being Proud Together

The inclusion of every person in his or her workplace, regardless of gender expression or sexual orientation is key for employees’ wellness and any organization’s long-term prosperity.

Four members of the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton family showed great generosity, conviction and open-mindedness in agreeing to tell us a bit about their personal history in order to help remove the taboos that may affect LGBT individuals in their personal and professional lives.

Joëlle Bélanger – Marketing Advisor

Being a lesbian is not something I brag about, it’s just who I am. Is it easy to respect who you are? It takes time! In my old job, when someone first asked me that infamous question, “Do you have a boyfriend?” I didn’t respect who I was and said no. That much was true, I didn’t have one. On the other hand, nobody asked if I had a girlfriend!

For three years, because of that “No”, my colleagues thought I was a single heterosexual. For three years, I continued to live a lie, without talking about my girlfriend and our daily lives.

When I started at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, I swore to myself that I would respect who I am. I didn’t waste any time. On my first day, I think it might have been one of the first things I said to my colleagues. I didn’t want to live a lie anymore. I quickly realized from my team’s reaction that they didn’t really care about my sexual orientation. It was an open-mindedness that makes me feel good and lets me be who I am.

Many people still suffer in silence and freeze when asked a trivial question that causes them discomfort. For a heterosexual, it’s simple, for someone who’s gay, it’s a whole different story.

Sylvain Prince – Partner – Regional Director of Professional Standards

How can you be true to your homosexuality at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton? I’d never asked myself that before, because I never felt different from my heterosexual colleagues, or felt that I was treated differently or labelled.

My career at the firm started when I did my university training here almost 20 years ago, the same year I “came out” to my university friends and met my partner. Never did I feel judged or that my career was hampered because of my sexual orientation. On the contrary, I was recognized for my skills and given the opportunity to take on several professional challenges, such as being named partner recently.

Because I accept who I am, my colleagues and clients know all about it and I think it’s easier for everyone. I don’t feel uneasy talking about my personal life with clients or colleagues or when my spouse joins me for activities.

When I announced to my colleagues that my spouse and I were going to have a child this fall with a surrogate mother, you should have seen how happy they were, there may even have been a few tears of joy!

In short, I truly believe that you can be quite comfortable in your homosexuality at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and pursue your career freely.

Christine Régimbal – Partner

I’ve been a proud member of the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton family for more than 28 years, as well as partner of the firm for almost 18 now. This firm has provided me with many opportunities as well as the tools to strive to achieve my full potential.

It has always offered me a positive work environment and over the years, just like society, our business has evolved into a very accepting work place. As a partner involved in student recruitment, I proudly speak of my wife to the potential candidates. It’s important they understand that Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton offers an environment of inclusiveness and acceptance, and that everyone is encouraged to be themselves.

I’ve recently had the honor of being reelected to the firm’s partnership Board by my peers for a second term. I’m very grateful to my partners for the trust they have shown me and I’m honored to be representing them on the Board.

Patrick Danis – Senior Marketing Advisor

Have you ever had to make a “big announcement” to people around you, whether it was positive or negative? As members of the LGBT community, we often have to make an “announcement” about who we are, which, to me, has often seemed somewhat unfair. So, imagine now that you’re arriving in a new work environment and you have to reveal something about your personal history to people you barely know.

When I started at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, I came from a company where, for almost 10 years, I was very open about myself. Now I had to start all over… At the same time, someone I knew once told me, “If you act like it’s not normal, then that’s the message you’ll be sending”.

So, I decided to be totally up front with my new colleagues and my “news” barely had any impact. We just kept talking about our lives, like anyone else would, regardless of their sexual orientation. It’s important to feel good about yourself at work. And thanks to you, dear colleagues, that’s how I feel every day. Thank you!

Message from Emilio B. Imbriglio – President and Chief Executive Officer

As I read these words, I felt extremely proud of my colleagues. Their words were moving and they have shown great generosity and courage in telling us their stories.

What I realized when I read the stories was their comfort in being themselves at work but also, a desire that all of our employees, regardless of their background, be able to thrive and be true to themselves at work, like these four inspiring people. Thank you Joëlle, Sylvain, Christine and Patrick.

Since August 1, 2019, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is proud to be a member of Pride at Work, an organization that is working towards bringing down barriers to employment for LGBT individuals.

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