Everyone should be able to be themselves at work

Every year, 11 October is Coming Out Day – the annual LGBTQ+ awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender people in ‘coming out of the closet’. Within ING, the Rainbow Lions networks are aimed at helping to create a work environment in which everyone can be themselves.

Ten percent of the population identify themselves as LGBTQ+, so logic tells us that ten percent of the ING population do too. They need the active support of ‘the other’ 90% to make sure their voices are heard loud and clear.

Mixing gay, the provinces and Turkish roots

Ibrahim Cirak is a board member of Rainbow Lions NL. He wanted to seek out ‘like-being people’ at work as well as in his private life and play an active part in fostering an (even) safer, more inclusive corporate culture.

Ibrahim: “I work in a very diverse team and always feel I can be completely myself. I am gay and from Twente with Turkish roots, which is quite an interesting mix. We’re generally doing well at ING in terms of diversity and inclusiveness, but there are thousands of people working here and I’m sure that in some settings things are less ideal than in my team.”

Take each other into account

“Occasionally situations arise in which you think ‘Listen to what you are saying! Don’t you realise how hurtful it can be?’ – such as when people ask ‘Who is the real mother?’ when a lesbian couple have a child. That’s so rude! To challenge people when they say things like that, can sometimes lead to a really good conversation, which is encouraging. The Dutch have a strong reputation for tolerance but it’s actually pretty disappointing in reality. Even within the bank, we still have a long way to go.

With the Rainbow Lions, our primary aim is to promote awareness and understanding. It should become entirely natural to take other people’s identities into account, whether in terms of sexuality, religion, origin, gender or age. We organise all kinds of initiatives in this context.

About Ibrahim

Ibrahim is Business Credit
Advisor. He now lives in Amsterdam but grew up within a Turkish family in
Twente, which initially caused him to feel “continuously torn between
conservative Christian provincialism with Islamic roots and the progressive
city. I struggled to figure out how to live life the way I wanted. The fact
that I’ve succeeded fills me with satisfaction and pride, because it has also
enriched me”. Ibrahim is on the board of Het Blauwe Fonds, which raises funds and invests in LHBTQ+
emancipation. He loves travelling and cooking, and is very interested in
politics and economics.

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