Corporates welcome pink workforce

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July 2009 Delhi High Court ruling, which decriminalised homosexuality, was a milestone for LGBT community. Bright and colourful “Pride parades” saw many coming out of the closet and celebrating their sexual freedom.

And now corporate houses are also coming forward to provide an open working environment for the community.
Wipro Technologies has a third sub-category in its application form under gender. Many corporate houses like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Accenture and Google are running workshops for the community in India and have their own LGBT communities. Medical insurance for same-sex couples, maternity and paternity benefits and many other HR policies that favour the community are being adopted by corporates.
Kalpana Veeraraghavan, manager, workforce diversity, IBM India/South Asia says employees feeling free to be themselves enables them to contribute to the workplace and clients. “We added sexual orientation to the non-discrimination policy as early as 1984. We also sponsor EAGLE members (Employee Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Equality), one of IBM’s Diversity Groups for LGBT employees and their supporters to attend various CSR workshops and industry forums to further sensitise and educate them to ensure safe and open working environment,” says Kalpana.
Corporate houses are coming together to welcome the community and create gender-sensitive environment. Ashok Dawar, who works with a city-based firm, says that he believes in free-thinking and equal rights for everyone but had never taken the initiative to actively participate or join an LGBT group. “But after I joined the community in my office I realised how hard it is for these people from LGBT community to come out from the closet. They have to brave the society and come out of personal dilemmas to embrace their own identity, which I believe is a very tough task. Now anyone who comes to us with a complaint of being bullied because of gender has our backing,” says Ashok.
In 2012, Google’s Gayglers supported the Pride March. Infosys also has its own community group. “In 2011, we set up our own LGBT community. It aims at creating a gender-sensitive and safe working environment. Various activities like chat sessions, reading and art workshops are conducted from time to time,” says an Infosys spokesperson.
Professional decisions like hiring and promotion are conducted without regard to gender and sexual orientation, adds Kalpana. However, Kanishka Singh Deo, who recently made a film to highlight the plight of LGBT community, I Am Beautiful, says that though there is increasing acceptance we still have a long way to go. “Many have to be satisfied with jobs like call centres where gender is not very visible. But most homosexuals complain that they find it tough to get jobs in marketing, sales etc. where one’s sexual orientation comes into the limelight,” says Kanishka.

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