Each and every one of us is in the pursuit of happiness: to live freely, authentically and reach our full potential. But unfortunately and quite disappointingly, the reality for many, however, is quite the opposite.
We live in a society where everyone feels pressurized to fit in with society’s conventional ideas of being a male or female and those who do not fit that brief, are subjected to ridicule, intimidation or even physical abuse. Even though there is increasing acceptance in society and greater visibility in media & public life, the LGBTIQ+ community still experience harassment and discrimination at work, colleges and in social situations. Even coming out for many meant strained relationships with friends and family or being uncomfortable at work/college.
The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) 2020, was observed on May 17th, marked 30 years since the WHO declassified homosexuality as a mental illness. This year’s theme was “Breaking The Silence”, which encouraged people to speak up against stigma and reclaim their voice in solidarity. This was not just one single campaign, rather, it was celebrated as a moment where thousands of ideas and initiatives converge over a single vision: freedom and equality for all sexual, gender and bodily minorities. Given everything that was currently happening in the world, the event was marked online with virtual events, themes and more.
From widespread campaigns and public support of equality to partnerships with LGBTQ organizations, and commitment to a safe and accepting workplace, many of the big firms are truly advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights. Some of the well known global examples include Microsoft’s GLEAM employee resource group, Salesforce’s Outforce community, The Intuit Pride Network etc. But, Indian companies are bringing in inclusivity into their HR policies, albeit slowly. Capgemini, Tata Steel, Tech Mahindra, IBM, Accenture and Zomato are some of the big guns that have caught on to this trend, majority of them being an extension of their global policies, through policies like extended medical insurance, inclusive parental leave policy etc. Interestingly, a World Bank report in 2016 suggested that India recorded a loss of $32 billion, in terms of wages lost and health costs, because of homophobia.
Hiring queer employees and glorifying diversity as something that looks cosmetically colourful on paper should not be the end of the road but only a starting point; the larger goal should be to bring in inclusion to a degree where being different is not a flaw anymore. It is high time that firms start looking at these communities as actual people and talent pools that are beneficial beyond their diversity value.
If they believe that putting rainbow filters on their branding is the way forward, then they’re definitely going down the wrong path.