Filipe Mota da Silva at a glance
Stand up, be seen, you belong here!
TCS Superstar Filipe Mota de Silva hid his identity for a long time at work. Since coming out three years ago, Filipe has become a driving force behind the company’s inclusivity, a profile that has brought our superstar many accolades, including making the Financial Times list of OUTstanding future leaders in 2016 and 2017.
During the first 10 years of my career, I concealed my sexual identity. It was draining and caused me anxiety, shame, fear and struggle. So, I made the decision to come out at work three years ago and talk openly about being authentic. The journey wasn’t straightforward, but what helped me was thinking that I could no longer hide my sexuality whilst I was benefiting from the sacrifices of others fighting for equality.
In the past few years, being myself at work has helped me gain a sense of belonging. It has made me feel like I count! My journey to authenticity gave me the confidence to become an advocate for inclusion, and I have worked tirelessly to promote “Diversity & Inclusion (D&I)” initiatives inside and outside my company.
Personal authenticity is an intrinsic human need. The inability to be yourself has a negative impact on one’s personal health and wellbeing. It also affects organisational factors such as retention, engagement, productivity and team cohesion. As a gay professional, it is important for me to drive this message of diversity and inclusion. I want to create an atmosphere of positivity in the workplace so that those who are different feel safe and can freely express themselves.
Currently, I am a mentor for the young women in our company and leader of the TCS D&I Council. I laid the foundations and am the Chairperson of TCS’s LGBTQ and Ally network. I’m proud that today we have more than 200 members worldwide and are increasing in strength each day. We support our members across the globe, especially in parts of the world where homosexuality is criminalized. Through our efforts, my hope is that members of the LGBTQ community and others understand that there is no need to hide as there will be no discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. I believe that we can all co-exist in a way respectful of the paths of others, regardless of how unconventional they may seem to be.
“I envisage TCS leading the charge in terms of tolerance and equality”
My dream is for Tata to set an example for other global entities, show the world that inclusion is about making sure everyone counts and we can respect and protect the differences. The LGBTQ network organizes key events. We have also created a talent pipeline tool to support, develop and guide our LGBTQ and Ally members to their next professional level and be leaders in their field of work. We host monthly global events in London via online conferencing, where a guest speaker (usually a client or prospect) is invited to share their journey, learning and new perspectives. We aim to impress upon our leadership, client partners and employees the importance of diversity and inclusion. We also want to have a safe place where everyone can listen and be heard.
Through our initiatives, we also want to put forward role models from the business world who are both different and successful. We know how daunting personal journeys can be, but more importantly, we understand how inclusive companies can outperform their counterparts (according to Josh Bersin Research the most inclusive companies generate 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three year period.)
Recently, Tata launched its first D&I newsletter focusing on LGBTQ networks across Tata companies. Our network members also participate in Pride events in the UK. Our aim is for LGBTQ and Ally members to be visible and confident, and to be supported in their development as successful professionals. In recognition of my initiatives in D&I, I was featured on the Financial Times list of OUTstanding future leaders in 2016 and 2017. I’m proud to have a nomination for this year’s list as well.
My work was also recognized at the European Future Forum of which I am a member. I was the Secretary of the Future Energy Leaders and am currently a Business Leader Committee Member at Confederation of British Industries 35 under 35, an Advocate of Innovation and Diversity at the World Energy Council and working towards the integration of all minorities and voices at our next congress in the Middle East. I was also nominated to be a Fellow of Stiftung Mercator, working on the future of Europe in the light of the refugee crisis and the D&I agenda, supported by the EU High Representative Frederica Mogherini.
“There are 20 kids who will be bullied at school every hour”
Another issue I have been tackling is bullying, in collaboration with charities that help young people. Having been bullied as a child, this is a cause close to my heart. Every day I wake up and realize that there are 20 kids who will be bullied at school every hour. I think about how to make everyone cognizant of our differences in a step towards co-existing in harmony. I do it by helping to organize fundraising activities whose proceeds go to support those who have been bullied for being different.
Operating in an international setting, companies like TCS are a melting pot of different people and nationalities. Accepting differences, promoting diversity and working towards inclusion are crucial in this journey. We have to work towards creating a safe and positive space for employees where everyone can just be themselves. While I was warned by many not to start an LGBTQ network for fear of facing career setbacks, I have proudly proved them wrong in every way. During this time, I’ve been praised and recognized for doing my job well and simultaneously recognized for my work in the D&I space. The encouragement that I received from my team and leadership spurs me on.
I hope to become an example for others, opening up their horizons and shaping mindsets in the area of D&I. In the future, I intend to start a charity focusing on anti-bullying, predominantly working in the UK and Portugal where I am most active.
A Superstar’s message to us all
To my colleagues, I would like to say: “Stand up for what you believe in and trust me, it gets better! Be seen! Find your own voice, use it and you will find similar voices around you. You are never alone when you reach out! Together we can do so much more”.