Article: Podcast: Benchmarking LGBT+ inclusion in India Inc

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Podcast: Benchmarking LGBT+ inclusion in India Inc

In episode two of the six part ‘Pride at Work’ podcast series, industry leaders Prachi Rastogi, D&I Leader, APAC, IBM and Ramkrishna Sinha, Co-Founder of Pride Circle and recipient of the NielsenIQ India’s Inclusion Icon 2022, talk about benchmarking metrics for LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace.
Podcast: Benchmarking LGBT+ inclusion in India Inc

LGBT+ inclusion comes with its unique set of challenges, one of them is being a largely invisible minority. Another challenge is the organisational lack of data literacy in benchmarking progress in LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace.

Addressing this challenge, industry leaders Prachi Rastogi, D&I Leader, APAC, IBM and Ramkrishna Sinha, Co-Founder of Pride Circle, and recipient of the NielsenIQ India’s Inclusion Icon 2022, spoke about the why, what and how of overcoming the many LGBT+ inclusion challenges with a data-oriented approach, in episode two of the ‘Pride at Work’ podcast series.

The six part exclusive ‘Pride at Work’ series, hosted by People Matters, in partnership with Pride Circle, dives into the finer nuances of the multi-faceted journey of LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace. While episode one of the series explored how organisations can mobilise allyship, episode two of the series focused on Benchmarking LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace.

“When we talk about measuring data a lot of times people get obsessed with one single question - how many out LGBT people are there in the organisation? It’s unfair, and very short-sighted to look at just one data point. When we talk about building a culture of inclusion, it's not just about one aspect of the workplace. It's about 1,000 things we do as a company to look at everything with the lens of inclusion and tweak where need be,” said Ram. 

Mapping representation, but not stopping there

Sharing how the LGBT+ community gets dismissed for being a minority, Ram noted a common issue in approach - ‘We don’t have LGBT+ employees and customers, so this is not something we need to look at.”  

Numbers demonstrate a different reality though.

Noting that in comparison to the earlier 3-5%, today nearly 16% of GenZ identifies as LGBT+, Ram emphasised that we can no longer be delusional about the presence of queer population in workplaces.

However, he added, even for organisations with a smaller percentage of queer talent, it is important to build a safe and inclusive environment, ‘irrespective of how many people fall in that bucket’.

Echoing Ram’s thoughts, Prachi said, “Even if you have zero people from the LGBT+ community, even then an organisation can take a decision to have the right policies which are gender-neutral and inclusive. Being inclusive is a business imperative, but before that it's a human imperative. And of course that makes business sense given a sizeable proportion of the workforce is queer.”

Urging changemakers to leverage metrics in their inclusion strategy, Ram advised that it's important to set reasonable goals - aspirational but also achievable. “So you're actually able to do something and slowly build it. You know how you're progressing, you have a score to back that up every year and you have a very clear line of sight of how you are progressing as an organisation.”

Mapping LGBT+ progress across India Inc with IWEI

Talking about India's first comprehensive benchmarking tool that enables organisations to measure and redefine their ongoing efforts on LGBT+ Inclusion - the India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI) - Ram shared how the index is built on Stonewall’s expertise of 15 years and is localised and understands where the country is in terms of legal framework and social status.

“IWEI doesn't look at just numbers, it’s about employees. It has nine sections from policies and benefits all the way to supplier diversity, employee resource groups to having out allies. There's a plethora of metrics and this is all evidence-based. As organisations make a submission they have to provide evidence of the work they're doing. Based on this evidence, a score is given to the company which is confidential for the organisation, but they do get a band of bronze/ silver/ gold top employer, which becomes a very wonderful way of celebrating organisations for the work they're doing in the space.” 

“It's important that whichever metric organisations use to measure their own internal work or external framework should be holistic. And it should have aspirational spaces that they can continue to build on,” noted Ram. 

In the past two years, more than 100 top inclusive employers, representing over 15 sectors, participated in the study, with the IWEI average score witnessing an increase of 7 points. “That is phenomenal because in this small duration of two years since IWEI’s launch, India Inc collectively has enhanced inclusion. They are pushing forward and there is tangible change happening in the ecosystem,” Ram said.

“There is clear precedent that where there is more openness and better laws, it is easier to self-ID and more people are open to participate and talk about being queer. It is important to navigate this with the information we have from spaces where we can collect data from and also invest in spaces where we want data points from,” he added.

Organisational health from the lens of being LGBT+ inclusive

Highlighting the challenges that leaders must be prepared to tackle as they adopt a data oriented approach towards enhancing LGBT plus inclusion at work, Prachi noted that it’s a mix of data, policies, programs and the environment you can create. 

“For example, it's really important for us at IBM to see how many people are really self declaring themselves on a self identification tool as being from the community. which is still confidential unless they want to be completely out. We're taking a step seeing what the health of the organisation looks like from LGBT+ inclusion.” 

Despite being an equal opportunity employer - with a focus on not discriminating on the grounds of sexual orientation and identity since 1953 - IBM chose to be reviewed on its current diversity practices and programs by Pride Circle. 

“Last year our neck was on the line. We were thoroughly checked on our policies and programs by the Pride Circle team, and that gave us a lot of learnings because you don't have to take your legacy for granted. You stand on that and focus on what’s next.” 

Prachi also emphasised creating an inclusive environment that not only enables queer talent to come out, but also allies.

“More than people from the community coming out, it’s important that how many allies are coming out. The moment you see allies coming out in an organisation, people from the community will find it much easier to come out and not hide,” Prachi said.

‘It’s important for every organisation and change maker who really wants to take a step towards LGBT+ inclusion to make the environment inclusive enough even before you start hiring and the reason clearly is that once you have an inclusive environment, it will be easy to not only hire people from the community but also retain.” 

“When you want birds to come to your balcony, you just get the right environment. It's the same with people. You build a culture, you set up the right framework of policies and benefits, you ensure that all employees are covered and are treated equally and are provided the right opportunities,” she added. 

To know more about Prachi’s four priorities to enhance LGBT+ inclusion and Ram’s three essentials to accelerate LGBT+ inclusion at the workplace, listen to the podcast on Spotify / Apple.

You can also listen to the podcast here:

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Topics: Diversity, #PrideAtWork

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