Are companies doing enough to create inclusive workplaces?

Pride Month is celebrated around the world in June to mark the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan, a turning point for the gay liberation movement in the United States. As the world has become more aware and accepting of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community, there is still much to be done to embrace diversity in the workplace.

A recent survey conducted by the Indeed job board found that 71% of respondents believe their organizational diversity and inclusion policies are insufficient.

Almost half of all respondents, 48% to be exact, reported no discrimination at work. However, a few pockets of disagreement remained as 27% of women, 23% of people with disabilities, and 21% of LGBTQ+ employees said discrimination existed, according to the survey shared by Indeed with CNBCTV18.com

Meanwhile, 41% thought the change was gradual and would happen over a horizon of more than a year.

Individual experiences have changed over time and geographies

“You can’t separate who you are as a person from what you do as a professional, so bringing the whole person to work is more productive,” says Pooja Jana (her), queer androgynous and senior data engineer, Wells Fargo India and Philippines.

Jana joined the company in August 2021 and says there is an extensive range of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) programs. She feels safe knowing that she is working where there is zero tolerance for any type of discrimination.

But Ketty Avashia didn’t feel as welcome when she entered the workforce in the late 1990s, when “LGBTQ+” was a big taboo.

“I didn’t feel safe or comfortable coming out publicly. So I tried to navigate that world as a woman,” the 44-year-old transman, who is vice president and head of platform integration at Wells Fargo India and Philippines, told CNBCTV18.com. .

“If you were different and did not conform to socially accepted hetero-normative behavior, the chances of being ostracized in the professional and personal world were real,” he said. “This would manifest in a number of ways, including not being placed in customer-facing roles or having your contributions go unrewarded. Early in my career, I faced a situation where customer appreciation for my work as a programmer was not taken into account in my evaluation, and I received less than positive feedback from managers.”

Following this, Avashia moved to the United States in the mid-2000s, where for the first time he was able to express himself without much backlash. “I could embrace my identity for the first time publicly. It was so liberating. He returned a few years later for increased social acceptance at all levels in India as well.

The 2018 Supreme Court decision

September 2018 marked a turning point for LGBTQ+ rights with the historic judgment of the Indian Supreme Court. On September 6, 2018, the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality and reversed its own 2013 ruling and partially overturned Section 377, a controversial British-era law that prohibited consensual same-sex relationships. The ban is irrational, indefensible and patently arbitrary, the court noted.

“As a result of this, today’s Gen Z LGBTQ+ tech workforce has witnessed a tectonic shift in how they define themselves and what they expect from their workplace. With higher levels of acceptance today, Gen Z, who will soon make up the majority of the workforce, will only amplify the gains made so far in the DE&I space to create a culture even more inclusive and accepting of the multiple facets of sexuality. orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE),” Avashia said.

Has the pandemic brought any changes?

COVID-19 has caused employers to adjust their policies more in favor of the LGBTQ+ community than any other category of employees, according to the Indeed survey. According to the report, 52% of all employers, including 94% of small organizations, say their amended policy gives LGBTQ+ people fairer representation than before.

Seventy percent of employers surveyed believe that the policies they have in place are intact and do not need improvement and only 23% (of which almost a third are small businesses) believe that it is possible to make their DE&I policies more effective.

However, 34% of employees surveyed say the pandemic has not impacted how their organization handles diversity and inclusion. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of employees surveyed said their organization got worse.

BFSI (40%), Automotive (38%), Consumer Durables (35%) and Healthcare & Pharma (33%) sectors, in Bengaluru, Delhi/NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune contribute to this sentiment, according to the survey.

Source: Indeed

What should companies do?

Earlier this month, Michael Page, in his report The GreatX, said companies should consider factors such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education, age and people. disabilities if they want to build a truly diverse and inclusive workforce. .

Most urgently, India needs to address its gender pay gap problem, most companies need to start committing to medium to long term strategies and setting quantifiable targets to ensure that they can advance DE&I.

The report adds that DE&I must start at the top, which means leaders must authentically embrace these values.

Meanwhile, according to the Indeed survey, 77% of employers believe that not prioritizing diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) could hurt their organizational performance. “Even on the job seeker side, Indeed data shows that 73% of employees want to work in organizations that actively promote DI&B initiatives, underscoring the importance of such policies,” said Sashi Kumar, Head of Sales , Indeed India.

About Margie Peters

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