LGBTQIA+ Inclusion In The Workplace: How Far Have We Come?

LGBTQIA+ Inclusion In The Workplace: How Far Have We Come?

The LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for genuine acceptance and inclusion in workplaces worldwide

Anjali KochharUpdated: Sunday, June 23, 2024, 12:05 AM IST
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The LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for genuine acceptance and inclusion in workplaces worldwide. While progress is evident, true inclusion goes beyond simply avoiding discrimination.

It's about fostering an environment where LGBTQIA+ employees feel safe, valued, and empowered to be authentic. Where there are no eyes differently judging them from being a part of different community all together. Where there everything is as normal as it is otherwise at workplaces.

Maya Raghuvaran, 31, a member of LGBTQIA+ community, who works at a content agency in Kolkata, says, “When all eyes will stop seeing me the same way as everyone else, I will feel the comfort.”

On the other hand, Ravi, working at a co-working space in Mumbai, believes he feels accepted at his work place and things are changing for them.

I urge you to imagine a workplace where:

●   Everyone feels comfortable using their chosen name and pronouns.

●    LGBTQIA+ employees can openly discuss their partners and families without assumptions.

●    Company events celebrate diverse relationships and backgrounds.

●    Leadership actively promotes inclusivity through ongoing training and open communication.

These elements create a sense of belonging, allowing LGBTQIA+ employees to thrive and contribute to their full potential. This benefits everyone – a diverse workforce fosters innovation and a stronger company culture.

Current Landscape

Many companies are making strides, with LGBTQIA+ employee resource groups and inclusive benefits becoming more common. However, challenges remain.

Microaggressions: Subtle, unintentional comments or actions can create a hostile environment.

Unconscious Bias: Hidden biases can impact hiring, promotion, and development opportunities.

Lack of Visibility: The absence of LGBTQIA+ role models in leadership can make it difficult for employees to feel they belong.

Road to true inclusion

There's no easy answer to "when" true inclusion will be achieved. It's an ongoing journey that requires commitment from both employers and employees. Here's how we can move forward:

Open Dialogue: Fostering open communication about LGBTQIA+ issues is crucial for dismantling biases and building understanding.

Training & Education: Ongoing workshops and training can equip employees and leadership with the knowledge and tools to create a more inclusive environment.

Celebrating Diversity: Recognising and celebrating the unique contributions of LGBTQIA+ employees strengthens company culture and sends a powerful message.

What’s happening at workplaces?

Companies have started to foster a more inclusive environment, there is no doubt in that. Whether it is about TATA group or Infosys, the big names are keeping their policies in place. In fact, startups and medium size companies are now coming in terms with this need for acceptance. However, as experts say, there is no accurate timeline to bring this inclusion. It is going to be a journey after all.

Kamini Shahani, LGBTQIA+ CRG Leader at Marsh McLennan, emphasises the ongoing journey of inclusion. Marsh McLennan fosters a supportive environment through initiatives like their Pride Squad employee resource group, sensitivity training, and inclusive benefits.

“The identity struggle is real and can have a detrimental effect on the overall well-being of the individuals. This is where employers can continue to play a significant and impactful role. By celebrating both our commonalities and differences, we aim to foster a culture of inclusivity. Allies play an important role in this, and through greater education more people can support members of the community. As we spend a significant amount of time with our colleagues, intentional allyship is essential in creating a positive and supportive workplace for everyone,” they said.

Raghunandan Saraf, Founder and CEO of Saraf Furniture, highlights the importance of LGBTQIA+ inclusion for both ethical and business reasons. His company prioritizes creating a space where everyone feels valued, attracting a diverse talent pool and fostering innovation.

“At Saraf Furniture we aimed at changing this paradigm and ensuring that the company is equally protecting and promoting the rights of homosexuals or any other individuals with different gender orientation. When I began this company, my dream was to have a workplace environment that creates excellent furniture while creating opportunities for people from any background. I can proudly say that Saraf Furniture has more than 500 members of the LGBTQ community working for the company in different capacities and on the same footing as everyone else,” he said.

It can be finally said that true inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace is a marathon, not a sprint. By working together, employers and employees can create a future where everyone thrives. We hope to see changing times!

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