The state of workforce diversity in India is an interesting one. Ever since the draconian Section 377 was struck down by the Supreme Court, the conversation around LGBTQ+ rights in India has been on in full force. But as we all know, decriminalisation is just one part of the long, tedious journey of seeing LGBTQ+ persons as equal members of society.
Many organisations are taking cognizance of it and doing their bit by becoming LGBTQ+ friendly companies in India. But this isn’t just for goodwill – studies have shown that organisations with robust diversity and inclusion policies are more likely to attract and retain top talent.
It has also been seen that LGBTQ+ friendly companies have more productive employees, owing to the fact that individual expression is celebrated and everyone is made comfortable in the organisation.
Gone are the days when LGBTQ+ persons were looked at from a benevolent lens; making space for them in everyday life benefits not just them, but everyone around them too.
With that in mind, here’s a non-exhaustive list of LGBT-friendly companies in India.
1. Mahindra Logistics Ltd.
In 2020, Mahindra Logistics Ltd. announced its LGBTQIA policy, which extends many of its benefits to queer employees and their partners.
Benefits such as adoption leave for single LGBT parents and bereavement leave are among the few.
Apart from this, the company also offers counselling services for LGBTQIA employees, their partners, and immediate family members.
Mahindra Logistics Ltd. also pledged equal opportunity and non-discrimination for queer employees regarding all hiring and retention practices, adding to the wonderful practice of LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace.
2. The Godrej Group
“There is no place for discrimination at Godrej. Only place for open hearts and open minds” reads the careers section of the Godrej website.
Known to be one of the most proactive companies for LGBTQ+ inclusion in India, Godrej has some robust LGBTQ+ policies that include a gender-neutral harassment policy, same-sex partner benefits, gender-neutral adoption benefits and support, gender transition support, and gender-neutral washrooms to name a few.
Godrej India Culture Lab, a wing of the organisation, has largely been involved in research that shows the status of LGBTQ+ employees in corporate India among other things.
3. Tata Steel
The diversity and inclusion policy at Tata Steel makes it one of the top LGBT-friendly companies in India. With its forward LGBT HR policies – being able to avail the same benefits as employees with heterosexual partners, reimbursement of medical expenses for those undergoing gender re-assignment surgery, adoption leave and childcare leave for same-sex partners, and even domestic travel and inclusion in honeymoon packages – it has paved the way for happier, more successful employees.
4. LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group
If you’ve heard of Kitty Su, a club most popular in metros such as New Delhi and Mumbai, you’re most likely aware of its LGBTQ+ friendly atmosphere. Well, the LaLiT Suri Hospitality Group – of which Kitty Su is a part – was India’s first hotel chain to introduce healthcare benefits to same-sex couples in 2018. The Executive Director of the Group, Keshav Suri, has been an advocate of LGBTQ+ rights and wanted to extend the same benefits to its LGBTQ+ employees.
Aside from being an LGBT-friendly company in itself – providing benefits such as insurance cover for gender reassignment surgery and gender-neutral policies – the LaLiT Group continues to do philanthropic work towards the upliftment of the LGBTQ+ community.
The Keshav Suri Foundation, for instance, announced the Aditya Nanda Scholarship for transgender students who were keen on studying food production and bakery at the Lalit Suri Hospitality School, thus beginning to meet the need for LGBT jobs in India.
With a diverse policy for its employees. Whether it’s the company’s professional development programs, inclusive LGBT HR policies and Mediclaim benefits, gender-neutral restrooms, and a global ally program, Accenture is yet another name in the list of LGBT-friendly companies in India.
Infosys, much like the other LGBT-friendly companies in India listed here, has policies for LGBT inclusion in the workplace. An enhanced health insurance plan for same-sex partners, coverage for gender reassignment surgery, surrogacy, and egg-freezing, and mental health therapy are some of the benefits Infosys provides its LGBTQ+ employees.
Apart from this, the company has also curated a three-part learning program to help build allyship and sensitisation among the employees.
7. Pitney Bowes
As part of its efforts to create LGBT inclusion in the workplace, Pitney Bowes encourages ‘blind applications’ from candidates applying to jobs – meaning that they don’t have to mention their gender, caste, religion, or nationality in their applications, but only their first or last names.
Continuing with the idea that the little things matter, candidates in their application form can choose to refer to themselves as Mr, Ms, or Mx.
The company also introduced the ‘I for inclusion, I for intersectionality’ programme to raise awareness about the lived experiences of LGBTQ+ employees.
As a way to ramp up access to equal opportunities and foster LGBT inclusion in the workplace,
Thoughtworks India introduced its ‘Interning with Pride’ programme, which is a technical training, internship and hiring programme for young graduates from the LGBTQ+ community.
It has also introduced policies for gender reassignment and transition and has built an employee resource group to ensure the employees from the community have a safe space within the organisation.
9. Axis Bank
Recently in the news for this move, Axis Bank introduced ‘Come As You Are’, a charter of policies for its LGBTQ+ employees and customers. According to this charter, employees can dress according to their gender expression; claim health benefits for same-sex partners; use restrooms of their choice, and have access to a quick redressal process.
As for its customers, Axis Bank now allows same-sex partners to open joint bank accounts; add ‘Mx’ as a title, and can make their same-sex partner a nominee for their bank account. This is a welcome move to foster LGBT inclusion in the workplace.
There are several other companies that foster LGBT inclusion in the workplace in India, and these were just some of them. Pride month is a time for us to take a look at the workforce diversity in India, and this is a great place to start.
Are you a part of an LGBT-friendly company too? Let us know!
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