“It’s important to be yourself”

“It’s important to be yourself”

Dominique Reijman
Sustainability / Interview
June 18, 2024
Interview with Dominique Reijman, Head of Internal Controls responsible for LKQ UK & Ireland, LKQ Benelux-France, Atracco and Components.

Encouraging and inspiring our colleagues to be their true authentic selves is part of our culture here at LKQ. We are committed to ensuring we create an inclusive work environment where everyone feels safe and empowered to thrive. In celebration of Pride month, we caught up with Dominique Reijman, Head of Internal Controls responsible for LKQ UK & Ireland, LKQ Benelux-France, Atracco and Components, to find out about his experiences as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and why it’s important we focus on inclusivity.  


Please share a bit about your LGBTQIA+ journey so far?   

I’ve been a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community for more than 20 years, so I’d say I find it quite easy to be myself now. Having come out as a gay man when I was a teenager, even in the Netherlands it wasn’t easy for me, but I’ve had time to build my confidence since. I’m open about who I am when asked and have never felt the need to hide in any job. That said, I don’t actively bring it up, I’m just honest during conversations.  

I also had a good experience when telling my family, they were quite easily accepting. It wasn’t something totally new for them as my aunt was also ‘out of the closet’. I would say I more struggled internally, knowing that I was different from others, it was a weird feeling. Everyone wants to be part of a group, and when you’re first honest with yourself about who you are, it can make you feel like you’re not part of existing groups anymore. I had friends who didn’t want to talk to me anymore and that wasn’t a good experience, but it’s not uncommon.  

Finding friends who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community was really comforting. I felt seen by these friends, easily supported and accepted. We can totally be ourselves around each other and that helps to strengthen relationships.  

I also think one of the main reasons I am confident to express who I am now is because I don’t want to hide the person I am with or neglect our relationship. Everyone deserves to feel appreciated.   


Can you tell us more about the Pride events and international LGBTQIA+ seminars you’ve been to and how they have inspired you? 

I’ve been to lots of Pride events all over the world, Los Angeles was really great! I hadn’t actually planned to go, but when I was there and realized it was on, I took the chance to attend, and it was incredible!  I’ve also been to Pride in Berlin, Cologne, Brussels and of course in my hometown Amsterdam all of which were fun.  

In my hometown, I also actively participate in many different Pride events, like Prideruns, tennis tournaments and of course the famous Canalparade. Also, I am a volunteer for a smaller Pride event in a neighbourhood of Amsterdam named “Pride Oost”. Overall, the message is that you can be who you want to be at these events and just enjoy life.  

One of the most inspiring events I have been to, was a corporate LGBTQIA+ event in India. Indian society is very different to western. It’s been nearly 6 years since LGBT legislation was passed in India, removing the law that criminalized same-sex relationships. This meant there was lots of openness at the event, the sense of pride in what has been fought for was really great to see, and their dedication to continue with more ambitions was clear. You really felt for what people have gone through to get to this point, what they’ve fought for and their passion to make a difference. It was encouraging to see lots of big companies supporting the event too, and making sure the topic is on their agenda.  


Why would you say it is important for us to focus on inclusion in the workplace?  

It’s important to be yourself in the workplace and that means organizations need to enable everyone to feel confident that they can be their true authentic selves.  

Although LGBTQIA+ rights are progressing in many areas, they are also going backwards in some. I think because there has been change over the years, people feel it is done now, but there’s still lots of work needed, around Trans rights for example. 

There are also still leaders around that don’t fully support inclusivity and this makes it difficult for change to continue. We need to keep the pace, keep building awareness and with businesses supporting and focusing on inclusivity, it will help.  

I’d like to share a story that made me proud to be myself at work and why inclusive environments are so important to build. I was in the office in Rotterdam, in an elevator, and a colleague started approaching me and said “wait”, she was getting her phone out and I was initially confused, then she mentioned how she had seen me on TV and began searching for a picture she had taken. I was on the Pride Canal Boat 2023 and featured on TV. For a colleague to have recognized me and thought to take that picture to show me was amazing, it made my day. No one should feel like they have to hide who they are, ever.   


How can colleagues ensure they are being inclusive? 

I would say generally it’s about being open, being genuine but also being respectful. We need to all understand the biases we have and be aware of them, and that is much broader than just LGBTQIA+. It’s understandable for people to have questions about things that are not the normal for them, but we need to make sure we are appropriate about what questions we raise out of curiosity. When speaking one-on-one with someone, it can be easier to have an open and honest conversation, whereas it can be harder in a group, especially if someone doesn’t want to expose themselves. So, I would just say we all need to be respectful in how we approach situations.   


What does it mean to be an ally?  

I see allyship in two ways, of course it is about being supportive and accepting towards the LGBTQIA+ community. And secondly, it’s about having the open conversations, taking part in events, and helping raise awareness. Allies are supportive of the whole network and support diversity in the corporate world as well as in their private lives. Allyship is very important to encourage people that you can be yourself and feel supported. 

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