Posted On 2016/10/07 By In Tollerance, DIversity, Business, News, Gender With 366 Views

India Inclusive – Companies make room for LGBTs

The only place where Apekshit Khare, 28, feels at home is in his office. At every step in his life, be it education or career, Khare had faced obstructions and a stigma. In a country where homosexuality is criminalized and where the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) community faces discrimination and a lack of basic rights, some corporates are celebrating diversity within their organizations.

“I was pleasantly surprised when I realised my same-sex partner would get the same benefits as a conventionally married couple,” Khare says in Godrej Group’s video promoting inclusion.

The sensitivity on part of his employer has come as a big relief to Khare.

“We often have members from the LGBT community writing to us, reacting to our open policy of recognising and celebrating diversity. Roles are given on merit. The company is also careful about the team to which the employee is assigned and ensures that their manager is sensitive to such matters,” says Sumit Mitra, head, group HR and corporate services, Godrej.

At some corporate houses, the process of inclusion starts at the recruitment stage itself.

“We don’t ask for any personal information such as gender, marital status. An unconscious social bias tends to rise within organisations and hence, it becomes important for corporates to take up this matter on a priority basis,” says Chaitrali Singh, director – HR, ZS India, a global sales and marketing consultancy.

ZS India dedicates half a day during orientation for new joinees to talk about respect at the workplace, which includes the LGBT community.

“Our HR team drives regular workshops to encourage discussions around the topic. For employees in people management roles, we conducts refresher workshops on how to manage people with respect,” she adds.

But such corporates are few and far between, going by the latest report put out by India Inclusion Inc.

“More than 98% of corporate houses don’t have a specific policy in place to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination. And also, while there is greater sensitivity and discussions around gender inclusion, protection of LGBT hasn’t really become a priority for most corporate houses,” says Sarika Bhattacharyya, founder & CEO, Biz Divas.

And among this minuscule 2% are groups like Tata Sons.

“In 2014, the Tatas launched a group-wide initiative on diversity and inclusion (D&I) that embraces 6 lakh people belonging to more than 100 nationalities. Titled ‘Tata LEAD’, this initiative encompasses core aspects of diversity: gender, race, ethnicity, special abilities, sexual orientation and age,” says N S Rajan, member-group executive council and chief group HR officer, Tata Sons. “We have not felt the need to isolate and define specific policies and processes for the LGBT community because inclusion and non-discrimination is fundamental to our D&I approach.”

Gender-neutral laws are another area in which companies have made strides. When it comes to child care, there are corporates ensuring single fathers, same-sex couples get 22 weeks paternity leave — on a par with what female colleagues get as maternity leave. Sexual harassment is another area where gender-neutral guidelines have been introduced.

“Traditionally, only harassment of female colleague could be taken up. With new corporate policies, it’s possible for male colleagues to report abuse from a male or female colleague,” says Bhattacharyya.

IBM has a robust POSH (prevention of sexual harassment) policy and enablers to the same in place.

“The LGBT community is a key element of this coverage,” says Roopa Wilson, diversity & inclusion leader, IBM India. “We have a sound system of engagement for the EAGLE community (business resource group for LGBT employees) with reverse mentoring, role model and other leadership development programmes.”

IBM’s Equal Opportunity (EO) Policy supports all members of the community even as they get on board.


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Sources:

Article: Economic Times / Image: kavitakapoor

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Stefan

Stefan (from Austria, Europe) has been living, studying and working in China since 2010. Stefan has worked on several research, publication and consulting projects focusing on the China Travel Market. He holds two Masters degrees and is an expert on China Outbound Tourism, Marketing and Social Media in China. Stefan works with BMG on the Global Ready China Seminars as well as the Global Ready China News and related projects. He also has teaching engagements in the areas of eMarketing and Tourism Strategy.

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