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INSPIRE 20 Podcast: Sander van 't Noordende, Out & Equal

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Linda Rosencrance Freelance writer/editor
 

Sander van 't Noordende is passionate about equality in the workplace—especially as it relates to the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) community—and has been recognized several times by The Financial Times as one of the top 100 global LGBT+ executives. 

Van 't Noordende was a member of Accenture's global management committee from 2006 to 2019. His last role there was group chief executive of the products operating group, which serves clients in the consumer goods, retail, travel, life sciences, and other industries. He joined the board of Micro Focus in June 2020.

A board member of Out & Equal, an LGBT+ workplace equality organization, van 't Noordende is one of the tech executives taking part in INSPIRE 20.

The Inspire 20 Podcast Series

Inspire 20 is a podcast series that showcases 20 executives from around the world who are making a difference in inclusion and diversity in their organizations, communities, and industries.

 

Listen to the podcast with Sander Van 't Noordende on Apple PodcastsSoundCloud, or Spotify. Plus: Catch up with all of the INSPIRE 20 series podcasts here

A major decision

Van 't Noordende came out as gay to his parents and friends over 30 years ago, when he was a university student.

After graduating from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands in 1987, he joined Accenture (then Andersen Consulting) as an analyst. A month later, van 't Noordende was faced with a major decision—whether to come out as a gay man to his colleagues.

As he tells the story, van 't Noordende was invited to an office party and had to decide if he should bring his partner or go solo. If he brought his partner, his co-workers would know he was gay and, in his words, "It would be all over."

But if he decided to go to the party alone, he would be hiding a part of himself that might help him professionally in the future.

Ultimately, he decided to bring his partner, which he says in retrospect was the best decision he could have made. In fact, he thrived at Accenture for 32 years until resigning from the consulting and technology firm in January.

Attitudes are changing—slowly

In the podcast, van 't Noordende talks about how attitudes toward LGBT+ equality in the workplace have changed since that long-ago party he attended with his partner, as well as how IT leaders can help make the workplace more inclusive today.

Van 't Noordende also said in the podcast that in the future he hoped that LGBT+ people, as well as everyone else, could feel 100% comfortable at work with who they are.

"And we're far from that, by the way. I don't want to be too negative, but there are still quite a few people who were out of the closet in university, and then when they join an organization, initially they go back into the closet. So we have a lot of work to do still."
Sander van 't Noordende

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