The Flag-bearer of Equality at Workplace
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Parmesh Shahani, a believer in the rights of the LGBTQ community in India is the head of the Godrej India Culture Lab and has been tracking LGBTQ issues in India for the past 15 years now.
Back in 2004, when he came out to his family, he called his father to say ‘The BBC says I am gay, so it must be true because it’s the BBC,” In an interview, Shahani had said his family accepted his sexuality without batting an eyelid. Shahani says it is no different to love in India as an LGBTQ person from what it is to love as a heterosexual person – love is love and is not restricted by something as basic as the gender of the person you love. He believes we need to ensure that we create a society in which all kinds of love are honoured and treated with respect and is sure that we will create this society over the next few decades.
At the Culture Lab, Shahani has been able to bring about a change. The experimental ideas space boasts of the most progressive HR policies when it comes to LGBT issues, from non-discrimination to same-sex partner benefits. As a flag-bearer of equality at the workplace, Shahani thinks the SC court repealing Section 377 has fundamentally changed the country. He believes the verdict will now lay the grounds for the creation of a more just, a more equitable and a more inclusive India. “This will not be easy and will take a long time – it requires a change of mindsets in our homes, educational institutions and our workplaces. Corporate India will have a big role to play in this and I am glad to see so many companies step forward, especially post the verdict, and indicate that they are going to create workplaces that will invite LGBTQ employees and treat them on par with other employees," Shahani said.
Shahani is the author of book titled Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India, which emerged directly out of his CMS Master’s thesis. He is a Yale World Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, a TED Fellow and an academy member for the Global Teacher Prize.