Agoda Colors: Our Pride Stories

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Agoda Colors members

Diversity and inclusion are celebrated at Agoda, where our 4,000+ colleagues from 80+ nationalities bring their best to the table. Among our D&I initiatives, Agoda Colors is an important one, as it’s a support group of the LGBTQ+ community and allies across Agoda offices.

So to celebrate Pride Month this year, we asked six members of Agoda Colors to share their pride stories.

Vicool Patel

Vicool Patel

Senior Manager, Global Workplace Experience, Diversity & Inclusion

“As a gay, non-binary, first-generation American, with a Hindu-Indian father and a Catholic-Filipina mother, it was initially difficult to fully connect with others in the workplace – let alone find a mentor with whom I could identify. However, I was fortunate to stay resilient and find safe spaces where my differences were not only encouraged but also considered an asset to challenge the status quo. Ever since then, I am on a mission to create and encourage this inclusive atmosphere within Agoda and the broader communities in which I engage.

At Agoda specifically, I’m proud to have helped create a Diversity & Inclusion Council, which consists of business leaders throughout the company who are passionate in understanding and embedding inclusion principles across the employee life cycle. This past year, we’ve been able to amplify our recruitment efforts to commit to hiring even more diverse talent as well as training our global workforce in recognizing unconscious biases and what it means to be an ally.”

Tim Hughes and his fathers

Timothy Hughes

Vice President of Corporate Development

“Pride is important to me because equality is important to me. Because love is love. Because we are born to be who we are. Because LGBTQ+ is a natural part of the human condition. Pride is also important because this is not my first pandemic.

I am 49. I am the proud son of two gay men. I grew up in the equally loving but separate homes of my mother and my two fathers. I grew up through the late 80s and early 90s at the height of a pandemic that killed so many, too many. I grew up in the AIDS crisis.

A lot of men I cared for and cared for me died. My dentist, my teacher, my debating coach and mentor, many others. They all died. Too many. I mourn them still. They died because of a virus and because of a pandemic.

But they also died because the world was too slow to provide care and treatment. The world did not treat them with equality and love. So pride is important to me because it celebrates equality and love. The absence of which can kill.

At pride, we celebrate the diversity of the human condition. As allies, we support, hug, love and dance with our LGBTQ+ friends and family. We celebrate, we love, we are proud. But we never forget.”

Busara Boussard

Busara Boussard

Social and Content Specialist

“I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, but the cherry-on-top moment was when I lived in San Francisco, USA. It may seem cliché, with all the assumptions that come with it, but the city made me realize many great things. No one judges you based on your sexuality, or how weird, odd, or artistic you are. This mentality helped me stay comfortable with and proud of my sexuality, while still respecting the different cultures of the world.

At Agoda, I’m grateful that there is a community that supports this cause and people are willing to speak up about how they feel and who they are–very similar to the life I had in San Francisco. Being around co-workers, I don’t need to make an effort to explain who I am. If there’s a time where I would need to mention my sexuality, I just say it and I’m 100% comfortable with it because it’s the norm for me and I would naturally expect people to have the same respect.”

Sharan Manthira Naidu

Sharan Manthira Naidu

Team Manager, Customer Experience

“I am a post-op transsexual woman who identifies as female, and I love that I never have to think twice to approach anyone to share feedback or concerns about my well-being, identity, and safety because they take me seriously as a person.

Today, as a team manager, it gives me great pleasure to share my knowledge, ideas, and skills in whichever way I can help my team grow.

I have always advocated for inclusiveness, and I love that at Agoda, opportunities are available to ALL, regardless of skin color, beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Unfortunately, not many companies uphold this value by virtue. Agoda has never made me feel anything less than who I truly am, and I love that here, there’s respect for all and their human rights, such as the rights to dignity and identity.

As part of the Agoda Colors community, I am always open to sharing my experience and assuring colleagues – who may hesitate to share their identities – that they are working in a safe environment.

Because it’s incredibly comforting to know that there are people who are there for you. That it’s important not to feel anything less than who you truly are.”

Nutchaya Somjit

Nutchaya Somjit

Legal Operations Coordinator

“I’ve known that I’m a pansexual since I was young, but growing up in a conservative family has refrained me from coming out of the closet, not only to my family members but also to any of my previous workplaces. When I joined Agoda in March 2020, my colleague told me that there were many clubs and communities for me to join and Agoda Colors (LGBTQ+ community) was one of them. I was delighted to hear that, so I joined the community right away.

Agoda created a safe space for me, and I can feel that no one here will judge me for who I am. I still remember the first event I joined with the Colors group. It was a casual lunch with community members in Bangkok. I felt so safe and comfortable in the community that I came out of the closet to everyone in the group. And that encouraged me to gradually coming out to more people I know.”

Beth West

Beth West

Organizational Development Senior Consultant

“At Agoda, I can be me. As a non-binary person, that’s not something I take for granted. Simply being able to wear clothes I’m comfortable in or have a hairstyle I want makes a huge difference in how confident I feel at work. If you’ve ever thought you had to actively hide part of who you are, I bet you can relate. Feeling inauthentic takes a toll and can hold us back from being our best. At Agoda, I am surrounded by people who work hard to make Agoda a place where everyone can be themselves.

Navigating legal, insurance and health systems built for a gender binary is tough enough for a person, let alone a company. Agoda’s not perfect, but we’re always trying to do better. I’ll never forget reading through my first performance review and seeing how my manager made sure to use they/them when referring to me in third person. Pretty sure I even teared up. For me, it’s the small, daily actions of colleagues who care that make Agoda a place where I can be myself.”

Read more Pride stories here.

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