Many argue that corporate India has been quite lethargic in welcoming and embracing LGBTQ+ identities.
One should not be surprised since some organisations are still addressing the age-old debate around gender inequality. In the last few years, however, some have made considerable progress in their Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity (DE&I) efforts. They started educating themselves and their employees about Pride and its relevance. Speaking at our Rainbow Summit: Pride Means More Than Representation, Alex Mathew AKA Mayamma shared his journey in corporate India. He said,
“My former workplace liked to call itself “inclusive” but was actually deeply homophobic. At my current workplace, I can go to my office dressed up as a drag queen. This not only makes me happy, but I am also more confident and it helps boost my productivity."Alex Mathew AKA Mayamma
Alex's journey reflects some systemic changes within the corporate circles. But progress is not uniformly seen across all industries. Ironically, the very law of the land which called for India to establish herself as a diverse and equal community, remains cold to rainbow flags and LGBTQ+ voices even today. In 2017, Saurabh Kirpal, a seasoned lawyer who openly identifies himself as gay, was recommended for the appointment as the permanent judge of the Delhi High Court. He is still waiting to hear on his appointment. Another fellow human rights lawyer Aishwarya Ayushmaan spoke of his experience at our Summit. He said,
“Half my colleagues know about my drag persona. But many others don’t. I am wary of telling them about this part of my life because I fear they won’t take me seriously as a lawyer. The courts in India are very heteronormative and that is why I don't like going there.”Aishwarya Ayushmaan AKA Lush Monsoon Human Rights Lawyer & Drag Artist
And while it is easy to identify these issues, the LGBTQ+ community also faces several other unspoken challenges, particularly around pay inequality. Often enough, organisations are trapped in the symbolism of Pride Month celebrations and Rainbow Capitalism. They believe they can contribute to the welfare of the LGBTQ+ community by displaying the Pride flag alone. But they don't make conscious efforts beyond representation. Raising a pertinent question at our Summit, CA Venkatraghavan, Managing Director and HR Lead for Accenture Operations for India and Sri Lanka, asked,
"Why is there no law or standardised methodology to regulate and monitor pay inequality when it is such a glaring issue, particularly among the perceived minority groups?"CA Venkatraghavan, Managing Director and HR Lead for Accenture Operations for India and Sri Lanka
The Summit not only identified these gaps in the current ecosystem for the LGBTQ+ voices. It also exchanged creative solutions that organisations can implement to make their work culture more diverse, equal and truly inclusive. CA Venkatraghavan began by highlighting the significance of running gender sensitisation programs and counselling sessions.
Watch the video above to know more about these practices and how to get started in implementing them at your workplace.