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How queer-friendly are corporate workspaces?

As we head into Pride month, Metrolife takes a look at what some Bengaluru-based companies are doing for their LGBTQIA+ workforce.
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 04:33 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 04:33 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 04:33 IST
Last Updated : 05 June 2024, 04:33 IST

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The introduction of gender-neutral policies, special health insurance plans and support groups for queer persons suggest that workspaces are becoming more inclusive and safe for the community. 

As we head into Pride month, Metrolife takes a look at what some Bengaluru-based companies are doing for their LGBTQIA+ workforce. 

At Acuity Knowledge Partners, Residency Road, policies and terms have been altered to ensure they are gender neutral. For instance, they use terms such as chairperson, instead of chairman or chairwoman, says Parul Dhir, director, Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) and Employee Engagement.

The employees of the research and analytics company are encouraged to declare their preferred pronouns on ID cards and official communication. In terms of infrastructure, the offices also have gender-neutral washrooms.

While the government does not recognise same-sex marriages, the company’s health insurance policies cover same sex partners too. It also covers sex reassignment surgery, Parul shares. In addition, sensitisation programmes are regularly held for their 5,000-plus employees. 

“There are barely any platforms to openly talk about sexual orientation and gender. So it is important to create that space for our employees,” Parul says. Movie screenings on the topic are often held followed by open discussion. On Valentine’s Day, they shared stories about same-sex relationships. Talks by authors and activists from the community are also held regularly. 

The employee response group, Prism, a network of employees from the queer community and their allies, has been active for three years. “Right now we are building an ecosystem, but we hope that soon they will thrive,” Parul says. 

Employee engagement

Anjana Berkmans, a transwoman who is a member of the talent acquisition team at Philips, shares that sensitisation sessions are held once every three months across all offices in India and for all levels of employees. 

A rainbow network — community of queer persons and their allies — works actively to make the workplace safe and inclusive at the electronics and health tech conglomerate. “They organise training sessions and workshops regularly,” Anjana reveals. The quarterly sessions cover everything from the basics of politically correct terminology to gender identity and mental health. She says, “For instance, we explain what the letters stand for in LGBTQIA+, we talk about gender orientation and gender identity, and preferred pronouns.” Pride marches within their campuses are held and insurance policies covering the specific needs of individuals from the community are in place. Apart from covering same-sex partners in their insurance, employees, irrespective of gender, can avail of paid ‘Child Adoption Leave’.

Reporting harassment

While there is no specific policy to deal with harassment, the company has something called the ‘Speak Up’ programme through which victims can talk about sensitive issues. Employees can flag conduct that doesn’t comply with the company guidelines by emailing or making a phone call to the GBT (general business principle) team.

AtkinsRéalis, Cunningham Road, is a project management organisation with over 4,000 employees. Apart from health insurance covering partners of all genders and gender reassignment surgery, the company conducts Pride Fairs on campus. The fairs feature discussions and activities geared towards raising awareness about gender neutrality. 

In 2021, they introduced gender-neutral toilets across their five locations in India. They have also been conducting employment drives aimed at the LGBTQIA+ community since 2021.

Sensitisation workshops are also held, especially during Pride Month, reveals Somnath Bhagavatula, vice president, human resources, India and Asia Pacific.

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Published 05 June 2024, 04:33 IST

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