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How can Indian Companies Encourage LGBT Workplace Inclusion Educating employees about the gender equality is an important aspect of HR practices

By Komal Nathani

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They get ignored, mistreated and thrashed by people, for their sexual preference.

The discourse over the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) has been going on across the world from a long time. While a few countries have legalized homosexuality, some are still struggling to understand it. According to the Article 377 under Indian Penal Code (IPC), the sexual activities of homosexuals are a criminal offence. But, does that take away the right to work from them?

Recently, a reputed daily reported an incident of a teacher being fired for exposing his sexuality, which raised the question about the inclusion of LGBT community in the workplaces.

Although, a few companies have made LGBTQ inclusion a priority in their hiring process, but gender diversity in the workplaces is still a far cry in India.

Entrepreneur India talked to the gender diversity consultants and entrepreneurs on how businesses around the world can practice the no-discrimination policy for LGBT community.

Here are the four strategies that can help companies to maintain gender diversity and a better LGBT workplace inclusion:

Educate Employees About Diversity Inclusion

The social stigma about not including LGBT in any kind of professional role has been common in the Indian society. Some organizations face problems of employees not welcoming his/her gay work partner because of cultural or religious norms. To deal with this problem, Nirmala Menon, Founder of the Interweave suggested companies to show their advocacy around the LGBT inclusion in offices. She said, "Educating employees about the gender equality is an important aspect of HR practices. The gender expression of entrepreneurs is not right in most of the organizations, which causes an unwelcoming attitude among employees for LGBT inclusion."

"As an organization, companies need to educate and help employees understand the value of diversity inclusion. So that they should be aware that any type of misbehavior with them will be a call out for their expulsion," she further added.

Other Benefits to Homosexuals in the Organization

Besides, a lot of global companies like Bain and Company, Google, Intuit ,and many other players are supporting LGBT rights. India's legacy businesses are also coming forward to support the cause. The founder and direcector of Godrej India Cultural Labs, Parmesh Shahani shared how the company is focusing on gender diversity at workplace.

Talking about the benefits to be given to the same-sex partners, he said, "We have the most progressive HR policies when it comes to LGBT issues, from non-discrimination to same-sex partner benefits. The fact that we are talking about these issues has led to some of these being absorbed into the larger group even though that wasn't the intention."

He added that he likes to be defined as someone who pushes for change, where he also works with senior leaders for the same. "We do a fun take on serious issues, talking about a range of issues through a lens of positivity," he said.

It's younger and C-suite staff who will shift the focus on LGBT inclusion

When it comes to LGBT rights, this decade has seen a positive sea-change, with business constantly anticipating lawmakers. Despite no legal mandate for LGBT inclusion, a large number of Indian companies are coming forward to foster the ideology of non-discrimination policies based on sexual orientation.

In fact, a new global research presented by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed that young employees were the ones likely to drive change in D&I. Nearly a third (27 per cent) of more than 1,000 executives surveyed said young employees were the cohort most likely to guide company thinking on LGBT D&I.

Just 16 per cent said the C-suite was the most likely to support inclusion. Women and younger employees surveyed were significantly more likely to believe that LGBT-friendly workplace policies and practices would deliver return on investment.

Komal Nathani

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific

A firm believer of hard work and patience. Love to cover stories that hold a potential to change the momentum of business world. Currently, a part of all-women web team of Entrepreneur’s Asia Pacific edition to jig the wheel of business journalism!

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