Article: Inclusivity must be a year-round commitment, says Publicis Sapient DEI director

Strategic HR

Inclusivity must be a year-round commitment, says Publicis Sapient DEI director

Vieshaka Dutta, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, underscores the importance of fostering an inclusive workplace culture year-round.
Inclusivity must be a year-round commitment, says Publicis Sapient DEI director

What is the crucial element to drive innovation and create a lasting impact? For Vieshaka Dutta, Director – DEI, Publicis Sapient, the answer is a variety of perspectives and experiences. She highlights that this philosophy is extended to Publicis Sapient’s LGBTQ+ inclusion efforts, which have seen significant progress over the past year.

Taking note of noticeable shifts in evolving conversation around LGBTQ+ inclusivity, Dutta says that the most impactful achievement has been the growing sense of acceptance of underrepresented communities. “We see this in the increasing number of LGBTQ+ people feeling comfortable being themselves in the office, with more colleagues openly identifying within our teams.”

Dutta sees this as a positive shift that reflects the success of their ongoing conversations around LGBTQ+ inclusivity. “Discussions are now more open, action-oriented, and demonstrably impactful, with a tangible increase in participation within our PRIDE Employee Resource Group (ERG) events and discussions. This growing engagement reflects the importance our people place on creating a truly inclusive space for all.”

Can you share details about any initiatives, programs, or policies your DEI team recently launched to support and empower LGBTQ+ employees?

We cultivate an inclusive environment where LGBTQI+ individuals can thrive and feel at home. Our commitment extends beyond PRIDE Month, as we celebrate cultural moments year-round through four major high-visibility initiatives. These initiatives ignite conversations, raise awareness, and educate our teams about the community.

For LGBTQI+ community, a key initiative is the Rainbow Internship, which supports the inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. In collaboration with Perriferry and the TWEET Foundation, this program addresses employment barriers faced by the trans-community in India. Over eight to ten months, interns receive extensive training, daily mentor interactions, and integration into internal LGBTQ+ groups. This initiative has successfully transitioned the interns into full-time positions and increased awareness among our team.

We offer comprehensive benefits for LGBTQI+ people, including healthcare coverage for gender reaffirmation surgery, hormone replacement therapy, and preventive medications like PreP. Our policies cover live-in and same-sex partners and extend health insurance to HIV+ individuals. We provide gender-neutral facilities and a gender-neutral approach to policies, along with LGBTQ+ sensitive mental health support.

Leadership at Publicis Sapient sponsors LGBTQ+ roles and inclusion initiatives. Regular training and sensitization programs reduce bias and promote psychological safety. Our EGALITE affinity group supports the community through awareness programs, ally-building exercises, and resource toolkits for leaders. We organize activities such as panel discussions, film festivals, and Pride marches to foster a respectful culture.

These initiatives and policies showcase our commitment to a workplace where LGBTQ + people can bring their authentic selves to work and thrive.

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Looking ahead, what are the key priorities and goals for Publicis Sapient's LGBTQ+ inclusivity efforts in the next year or two?

We have key priorities for the next two years, including increasing LGBTQ+ representation in leadership positions and expanding our LGBTQ+ initiatives and support systems to all our global offices. We also recognize the importance of intersectionality, addressing the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ people who identify with other marginalized groups. Over the years, we've collaborated with multiple grassroots organizations to support the cause and learn from the community. We plan to further strengthen these partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations and advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

What metrics or data the company tracks to measure the success of your DEI initiatives related to LGBTQ+ inclusion?

To track our systematic evolution and ensure our inclusion efforts have a positive impact, we utilise a multifaceted approach. We monitor diversity data by recording the number of people who self-identify as LGBTQ+, allowing us to understand our workforce diversity and increasing acceptance. Regular focus groups with LGBTQ+ people provide invaluable feedback to identify and address areas for improvement within our systems and policies. Lastly, monitoring psychological safety and happiness quotient across the organization provides us a broader view of inclusivity, ensuring everyone feels valued. By continuously analyzing these metrics, we refine our DEI initiatives and ensure they create a truly welcoming workplace for our people.

With Pride Month being a time for celebration and reflection, what advice would you offer to other organizations seeking to enhance their support for LGBTQ+ employees during this time and beyond?

We understand that Pride Month is a time for celebration, but inclusivity is a year-round commitment. For organizations seeking to enhance their support for LGBTQ+ people, our advice would be to implement concrete policies and programs that demonstrably support LGBTQ+ people. Actively listen to your people through surveys and focus groups to understand their specific needs. Education is key – offer unconscious bias training and create a culture of open communication right from the onboarding stage. Be an active ally – support LGBTQ+ rights through advocacy and philanthropy. Finally, celebrate authenticity – encourage your LGBTQ+ people to bring their whole selves to work.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Diversity, Employee Relations, #HRCommunity

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