PAVING THE WAY FOR QUEER INCLUSION IN INDIAN WORKPLACESby Editorial Desk June 14 2023, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins, 35 secs
Addressing LGBTQIA+ workplace discrimination through inclusive policies, Anurag Kundu, Chairperson DCPCR, launched 3 short films highlighting exclusion in workplaces, reports The Daily Eye #Newsdesk
New Delhi, 12 June 2023: Nazariya QFRG (Queer Feminist Resource Group), a queer women and trans-persons led and run organisation working to make LGBTQIA+ lives visible, held Qubicle, a seminar for queering workplaces for diversity, equity. The seminar, which was organised along with Avian WE, an integrated communications firm, saw participation from over 20 organisations, including major corporations and NGOs from across India. Kama Ayurveda and Urbanic supported the seminar as gifting partners. Anurag Kundu, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), also graced the event and shared his views on the importance of workplace inclusion.
An important aspect of Qubicle was the screening of three powerful campaign films produced by Nazariya. These films highlighted workplace exclusion and often-unvoiced issues endured by queer and trans individuals on a regular basis. By bringing to the forefront the minute details about how exclusion can present itself, the films intend to initiate conversations within and amongst organisations on the various aspects they need to look at while talking about inclusion.
Launching the films, Anurag Kundu spoke about the necessity of creating an enabling environment for LGBTQIA+ persons: “Inclusion, representation, and equitable opportunities for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace are a powerful tool for societal change. By creating spaces that value diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are fostering an environment that can catalyse widespread transformation. This ripple effect extends to children, young adults, and the larger society, gradually sculpting a world that is more accepting and understanding. Underrepresentation, microaggressions and discriminatory practices are real obstacles faced by LGTBQIA+ persons. To surmount these challenges, it is incumbent upon us to implement comprehensive policies, provide educational programs, and create supportive networks. Moreover, partnerships with external organizations can amplify our efforts, driving a change that is far-reaching and enduring."
The 2016 Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey exposed the fact that over half of the Indian LGBT population surveyed could face termination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. It further indicated that a staggering 87% lacked access to official LGBT Employee Resource Groups. A large 40% of the participants had experienced harassment and numerous individuals had been subjected to the distress of homophobic remarks.
Rituparna Borah, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Nazariya QFRG, shared her views on the importance of open discussions: “Companies' pursuit of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) should be a sustained, year-round commitment, rather than a symbolic gesture primarily visible during Pride Month. The drive for inclusivity ought to be purposeful, encompassing an extensive overhaul of policies and infrastructure to truly cultivate environments that are safe and welcoming for LGBT individuals, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized communities. Such intentional efforts not only elevate a company's productivity but also spotlight its human-centric ethos, proving that the organization values every individual, celebrating their unique identities and experiences.”
Through Qubicle, NazariyaQFRG sought to ignite conversations and inspire a transformative change in corporate culture, towards an environment that genuinely respects and celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The seminar featured three engaging panels, each honing in on distinct aspects of inclusivity. The first panel spotlighted the experiences of LGBTQIA+ employees, offering insight to the nuances of inclusive workplaces. The following panel showcased organisational approaches to fostering inclusive environments, highlighting their triumphs and challenges. The final panel sparked a dialogue among senior executives, discussing strategies for nurturing diversity, equity, and genuine inclusivity in the long term.
Some eminent speakers included Ravi Bhatnagar, Reckitt Benckiser, Sujeet Ranjan, Tata Trusts, Dhrubojyoti, Hindustan Times, Sharmistha Ghosh, Avian WE, Roy Thomas, NASSCOM Foundation, Vinay Arora, S&P Global, Bhavna Rajpal, CARRIER-UTC Group, Swapna Samuel, CARE India, Kanchan Sharma, Urbanic, Sahitya Gupta, Nazariya QFRG, Amrita Tripathi, Avian WE, Neel Sengupta, Womxn Writers Project and Vinit, SAR Group.
The panels were moderated by Aditi Angiras, Founder, Bring Back the Poets, and an artist, Sharif Rangnekar, Founder, Rainbow LitFest, and Rudroneel Ghosh, Assistant Editor - Edit Page, The Times of India
Qubicle, therefore, not only served as a forum for policies, but also as an avenue to understand the experiences of queer and trans people in workplaces. The seminar elucidated the challenges LGBTQIA+ individuals faced in securing employment and drew from their shared experiences. This significant dialogue fostered reflection and understanding, propelling efforts towards an inclusive workplace environment.
Speaking about the responsibility of corporations to raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues, Sharmistha Ghosh, Sr. Vice President, Avian WE said, “Cognizance and acceptance of diversity are the cornerstones of a progressive corporate landscape. As corporations, it's our inherent responsibility to raise awareness about LGBTQIA+ issues, reinforcing the imperative to respect, protect, and celebrate our diverse workforce. However, our responsibility must transcend organisational boundaries. In 2021, Avian WE, in an effort to foster understanding about gender and sexuality launched Consciously Speaking, a book that explains 34 terms associated with LGBTQ+ discourse. More recently, we released Satrangi Bhasha, the Hindi translation of Consciously Speaking, in an effort to reach out to people in Hindi, one of the most widely spoken languages of the country”.
The Pride Month presents a unique opportunity to initiate meaningful discourse and concrete steps to ensure inclusion of gender and sexual minorities in mainstream systems. Qubicle has laid the groundwork for future efforts, strengthening the resolve of all attendees to work towards ensuring an equitable, diverse, and inclusive work environment. It is a testament to the power of open dialogue and shared understanding in sparking the necessary changes for an inclusive future.