India Inc shakes up policies to be more queer-friendly – Industry News

Diversity and inclusion are driving a rethink of corporate policies around the world, with recruitment drives, job fairs, medical and insurance policies, HR counselling, common facilities like gender-neutral washrooms supporting a conducive work environment for the differently-abled and LGBTQI+ employees.

“Diversity is not just about gender but includes different cohorts of people who are underrepresented today. We provide opportunities when they enter the workspace with specific training to bring the equity they would need to have a level playing field with everyone else,” says Deepti Varma, VP-PXT (people, experience & technology), Amazon Stores India, Japan and Emerging Markets.

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Accenture India has a six-month internship programme that helps build a skilled talent pool of transgender people to assess prospective candidates for full-time roles.

Pernod Ricard India Foundation (PRIF), in partnership with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the Collective Good Foundation (CGF), launched India’s first academic-corporate fellowship programme for the transgender community last year.

“All 14 are currently doing internships with various corporate houses. Through this transformation fellowship, we enable the community to craft a career path in the corporate world. We plan to launch ERGs (employee resource groups) for the LGBTQ and an inclusive communication guide has been developed to help team members communicate with the LGBTQ persons,” says proud transwoman Zainab Patel, who is lead, inclusion and diversity, Pernod Ricard India.

For a sense of belonging and acceptance among employees, NatWest Group runs multiple sensitisation sessions throughout the year, and recently launched an all-inclusive mentoring programme focused on reverse mentoring for NatWest leadership.

Dhiraj Anand, MD, retail banking, NatWest Group India, said, “We have onboarded three mentors (from the LGBT+ community) as part of this programme to encourage role modelling, allyship and affirmative action. The TRANSpire programme promotes employability skills for the transgender community and onboarded 11 colleagues from the community for a fully-paid six-month training programme; we also hosted a Rainbow Bazaar at our office premises showcasing products from LGBTQ entrepreneurs.”

Dulux paint, an AkzoNobel India brand, has launched a skill training programme and trained over 40 transgenders last year. Global professional services company Marsh McLennan has dedicated colleague resource groups that voluntarily work towards making the workplace more inclusive. “In the past 12 months, three individuals from the LGBTQAI+ community have joined our team. Our aim is to continue increasing this number, both within India and on a global scale,” said Jaspreet Singh Bakshi, India HR leader, Marsh McLennan.

From email signatures to Pride rainbow-coloured entrance ways, Procter & Gamble offices have a GABLE (gay, ally, bisexual and lesbian employees) affinity group network to sensitise employees on various issues, while Pride Podcasts invites leaders from P&G global to share their journeys and address myths about LGBTQ+.

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Family leaves policy at Schneider Electric supports LGBTQ+ parents with equal paid leaves globally. “We have revamped our daycare policy and made it gender-neutral for primary parents who have taken responsibility for the care of their child. Gender reassignment surgery and medical needs of family units of self and that of same-sex partners and coverage of surrogacy delivery cost are covered under our insurance policy,” says Binu Philip, chief human resource officer, Schneider Electric (Greater India Zone).

Ecommerce retailer Meesho offers 30 days leave for transitioning or gender reassignment surgery, which is covered under insurance. Their insurance is LGBTQAI+ inclusive apart from covering mental health, IVF, and live-in partners. WeWork India offers infertility coverage up to Rs 1 lakh, including egg harvesting and freezing, and surrogacy within maternity benefits. The company has gender-neutral washrooms, as per the Plum Inclusion Report 2023.

Abhishek Poddar, co-founder & CEO, Plum, digital healthcare platform, shared that in terms of medical benefits, on an average, only one in 10 companies ask for the LGBTQ benefit. “At Plum, we counsel our customers to take up these policies and we have succeeded in getting about 90% of the customer base to include it,” he said.

Accenture India expanded medical insurance benefits to include facial reconstruction surgery for transgender people, introduced coverage for gender reassignment surgery for their partners and medical insurance benefits for the partner’s parents under the ‘parents-in-law’ category. “We have a vibrant global LGBTIQ+ ally network of 119,000+ people who are enabled through training and mentoring programmes to become more informed and vocal pride evangelists,” said Lakshmi C, MD & lead – human resources, Accenture India.

Capgemini in India provides partner medical insurance coverage for employees in same-sex relationships. “Our practices include gender-neutral job descriptions and specialised counselling. We cover gender affirmation surgery in medical insurance and related benefits for trans people and have built all-gender washrooms in offices,” said Sarika Naik, CMO & chairperson, diversity – India, Capgemini.

Zomato has parental leave offering 26 weeks paid leave to non-birthing parents, same-sex parents, and in cases of surrogacy and adoption. “Period leave is for all women and transgender people. Last year, we launched our first-ever employee resource group, Out & About, focusing on the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies,” said a Zomato spokesperson.

Nutanix, a cloud computing firm, has a range of LIFE Groups – employee-led and employee-organised groups that share common life experiences and backgrounds, said Sankalp Saxena, SVP & MD operations, Nutanix.

SAP Labs India hosts a Pride march to raise awareness about the community and their challenges among people. “We have one of the largest global employee networks called Pride@SAP – comprising over 8,000 LGBTQIA+ members and allies across different locations,” said Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP and MD, SAP Labs India.

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