Pride Month: 'Let us stand together for the community not just this month, but every month'

Fifty-one years ago, this month, the first Pride marches took place in cities across the United States giving rise to what’s now known as Pride Month. Celebrated each June, Pride Month brings together voices in support of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer citizens.

The gross inequality faced by members of this community has resulted in deep-seated fear and stigma. Not many of us give thought to the fact that they feel unsafe emotionally and physically in environments that most of us would consider secure, such as home, educational institutions and workplaces. Imagine living with this fear and insecurity, day in and day out. And that's why I’m determined and proud to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community. An ally advocates for an inclusive environment for all, whether they identify as or belong to the LGBTQ+ community, or not

Johnson & Johnson has made long standing efforts towards creating an equal and diverse environment to support the LGBTQ+ community through its business practices, employee policies and public advocacy for more than 25 years. This is in line with Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to serve the healthcare needs of people everywhere. We also believe that we are a stronger company for being more representative of the communities we serve.

Our Credo outlines our responsibility to create an inclusive environment and respect the dignity and diversity of all people. This makes diversity and inclusion everyone’s responsibility—that of every employee around the globe. To tap the power and empathy of our people, we created the ‘Open and Out’ Employee Resource Group, where we work together to support our LGBTQ+ colleagues and raise understanding and awareness about issues that may affect them in the workplace and beyond. Launched in India in 2019, on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Johnson & Johnson’s Open & Out ERG has been one of the pivotal ways for the company to showcase its partnership and leadership for this community.

We have always had a “You Belong” culture, which focuses on Equity as a philosophy. While our long-term goal for the Open & Out ERG is to eliminate the need for it to exist, in the short-term we have focused on ensuring inclusive benefits such as same-gender partner Mediclaim Benefits, Adoption Leave, inclusion in other family benefits like Holiday Plan, Relocation Policy and Refundable Medical Advance. Our Equal Opportunity Policy, Benefits Policy and Sexual Harassment Policy all advocate inclusion.

We will continue to make every effort to realize our vision to make Johnson & Johnson the employer and healthcare company of choice for the LGBTQ+ community, a place where they feel safe and empowered to be themselves. I urge each and every one of you to be aware of unconscious bias, be a little more accepting, a little less judgmental, and a lot more supportive than you were yesterday. Let’s stand together for the LGBTQ+ community with Pride, not just this month, but every month.

(Ajay Grover is Director, Ethicon Endo Surgery, Ethicon Surgical Care, Johnson & Johnson)

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