Article: Inside the rise of LGBTQ+ employee support in corporate India

Diversity

Inside the rise of LGBTQ+ employee support in corporate India

Indian corporations are making significant strides towards LGBTQ+ inclusion through innovative programmes, comprehensive resources, and tangible benefits that foster a welcoming and thriving work environment.
Inside the rise of LGBTQ+ employee support in corporate India

Gone are the days when inclusion was simply a nice-to-have; today, it's essential for a thriving workplace. Several companies, including Lenovo, Godrej DEi Lab, Godrej Capital, NetApp, and Capgemini, are leading the way in LGBTQ+ inclusion with innovative programmes, comprehensive resources, and tangible benefits. These initiatives go beyond basic non-discrimination policies, aiming to create an environment where LGBTQ+ employees not only feel welcome, but also flourish in their careers.

Sreya Ghosh Oberoi - Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion - India, Capgemini, emphasises creating an environment where every employee feels comfortable being themselves and can realise their full potential. “We believe the focus needs to be on creating a trusted environment where everyone can experience the feeling of “I belong” and take pride in their uniqueness,” she says.

Godrej Industries Group echoes this sentiment. Parmesh Shahani, Head of Godrej DEi Lab, highlights the need to move beyond simply saying the right things. "It's not just about saying the right things, but creating a culture that celebrates diversity," he states. "So, we go beyond the basics of non-discrimination policies and focus our efforts on creating a culture of inclusion, where everyone can thrive."

To create an inclusive workplace for LGBTQ+ employees, Priya Tikare, Director and Head of HR, at Lenovo India, emphasises understanding and valuing each employee's unique identity. "We understand that each of us is unique, and it's this diversity that makes us stronger as a company," she says. 

Lenovo has implemented several initiatives. They believe that employees should be able to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. “By embracing our differences, we foster a culture of mutual respect and inclusivity. This is exemplified by the CARE model training that encourages inclusive behaviours, such as communicating across differences and acting in allyship,” Priya explains.

Fostering a sense of community is also crucial. Companies like 3M India understand this. Their Pride Employee Resource Network (ERN) actively works on creating awareness communications, sensitisation training, and employee engagement opportunities. Events like "Coffee Meets" provide casual catch-ups for LGBTQ+ employees, while interactions with industry and LGBTQ+ experts broaden perspectives on inclusion within the community.

3M India's Pride ERN collaborates with Bangalore-based NGOs, Sangama and Solidarity Foundation. Together, they launched the 'Ellaru Nammavare' (We.Are.All.Us) CSR initiative. This programme focuses on supporting, sensitising, and developing skills and employability for the broader LGBTQIA+ community. 

Deviyani Mani, Asia Portfolio Manager and 3M India Pride ERN leader, explains the division of labor: "Sangama spearheads public support, and awareness campaigns, and connects community members with available welfare services. Solidarity Foundation, on the other hand, provides training and skill development across various trades, preparing members for opportunities in industries open to LGBTQIA+ hiring."

To promote inclusivity, Godrej Capital group health insurance policy provides comprehensive healthcare support to LGBTQIA+ employees, including a cover for medical transition, and mental health support. “We have further made gender-neutral restrooms accessible to our LGBTQIA+ employees, alongside traditional options to elevate personal comfort and choice,” says Bhavya Misra, CHRO, Godrej Capital.

“We also ensure regular training sessions on unconscious biases and promote a culture of respect and understanding among all employees. The company offers sensitivity training to its managers to eliminate gender biases from the hiring process, and runs a dedicated allyship program to enhance awareness and nurture a culture of support and inclusivity,” adds Misra.

Initiatives beyond non-discrimination

Health benefits for LGBTQ+ partners, promoting a barrier-free workplace, awareness, education, and sensitivity training to help employees understand LGBTQIA+ issues better, gender reassignment surgery and Infertility treatment are some of the initiatives companies have taken beyond basic non-discrimination policies to support LGBTQ+ employees.

OUTfront is one such initiative, by Capgemini which promotes a barrier-free workplace, encouraging employees to be their authentic selves. “The OUTfront Ally Network Group (OANG) was set up in 2017 and is open for all to play a role in making our organisation truly inclusive. As part of this initiative, we have launched various campaigns and virtual LGBTQ+ sensitisation workshops to educate our employees. It plays a significant role in driving awareness of differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. We have also set up gender-neutral restrooms across all our buildings in our campuses,” says Sreya Ghosh Oberoi.

Capgemini has also partnered with "Leading with Pride," an external mentorship program, for a comprehensive leadership development program for LGBTQIA+ early career professionals and allies as well as experienced leaders.

Godrej DEi Labs offers gender-neutral caregiving policies, adoption support and medical coverage specifically designed for transgender and queer individuals. They also offer housing loans to same-sex couples.

To support and enable diversity and be more inclusive, Novo Nordisk Global Business Services (GBS) extended the parental leave policy to 14 weeks from 8 weeks for non-birthing parents including same-sex couples. To support LGBTQ+ employees, Novo Nordisk GBS also offers Trans-reassignment surgery costs through medical insurance.

Similarly, P&G offers a ‘Share the Care' inclusive parental leave policy that provides all new parents including biological parents, domestic partners, adoptive parents, and parents in same-sex couples with 8 weeks of fully paid parental leave. “This is on top of 6 months for biological mothers and primary caregivers. Additionally, the Infertility Treatment policy supports employees of diverse gender identities, sexual orientations, and family structures with more inclusive opportunities for family planning,” says Ankur Bhagat, Vice President – Product Supply & Executive Sponsor for LGBTQ+ Inclusion, P&G India.

Amazon India also launched multiple initiatives to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion into the workforce. Building awareness through sensitisation workshops, and training employees and leaders about what is expected out of them help build a more positive and inclusive workplace environment.

“By championing LGBTQIA+ visibility, companies don't just attract diverse talent, they build a true sense of community and respect. These efforts extend far beyond Pride Month alone, shaping workplaces where everyone can thrive year-round. As we celebrate Pride, we must continue advocating for inclusive workplaces where diversity is woven into the very fabric of the culture - not just a box to check,’ says Sujoy Das, Financial Analyst and Lead at Proud@NetApp - India and APAC.

Measuring the impact

Most of the companies rely on survey feedback to measure the success of their LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives. “Employee surveys are conducted to collect feedback on the LGBTQ+ experience, guiding future initiatives. Retention and promotion rates of LGBTQ+ employees are monitored to ensure equity, with positive trends indicating a supportive environment,” says Oberoi.

Godrej DEi Labs consolidate and analyse data on hiring, retention and promotion for focus cohorts, including LGBTQIA+ employees, at a group level. Through the Godrej DEI Lab, we hope to listen to and learn from the experiences of our queer colleagues, as well as tell their stories and advocate for their success at work.

Lenovo measures the success of its workplace initiatives through various internal and external indicators, which calculate factors including employee satisfaction, productivity, and morale.  “Employee engagement surveys are a good way for us to better understand our workforce – we know that engagement is a measure of productivity, and inclusion, and a predictor for retention,” asserts Tikare.

Novo Nordisk GBS ran an Allyship game which helped to create an environment where they encouraged employees to be an active allies and it was a stepping stone in increasing awareness about the LGBTQ+ community, creating a more vocal and safer environment and enabling people to voice their thoughts via the game and various other competitions during Pride month.

“Through several awareness initiatives and inclusive policies, our employees can bring their whole self to work and are more comfortable expressing their opinions on various D&I-related topics,” adds Dawber.

Through these efforts, corporate India aims to create a workplace where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

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Topics: Diversity, Culture, #HRCommunity

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