The assessment of talent for job roles should be for a person’s talent and capability to perform the job role and that person could be just anyone who has the ability of performing that role effectively, regardless of their gender, age, physical disposition, or sexual orientation. Organizations, especially in our nation where the employer diaspora are still acquainting themselves about sexuality, sexual orientation, and associated biases, need to ensure that every candidate or employee is evaluated on the principles of equal opportunity sans prejudice of any kind. Thereafter, employers need to invest in creating work cultures and policies that are embracing of such diversity, especially for LGBTQ+ talent that has very often faced social ostracism and prejudice in our workspaces.
In recent years though, diversity and inclusion has become increasingly important for organizations in India. With over 1.4 billion people speaking more than 450 languages in our nation, diversity and its acceptance should come naturally to us. However, even a center-stage diversity genre like gender has taken a painstakingly slow path to find its due consideration in the bastions of our country’s talent landscape. Corporate India may be taking baby steps towards understanding and accepting that diversity extends beyond gender representation, encompassing employees from various cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, different age groups, and individuals with diverse physical abilities. That said, except perhaps in some new age companies, many employers are still to even begin to educate themselves on biases that talent identifying on the LGBTQ+ spectrum faces in India while trying to gain employment or when employed. Employers will need to take proactive measures by emulating the best practices of some early winners in this very sensitive area. These best practices could include the launching of dedicated hiring platforms, organizing job fairs, implementing equal benefits and policies, and creating awareness and ally networks.
A Balance of Various Diversity Parameters
Achieving genuine diversity and inclusion requires more than numbers or quotas. Companies need to adopt various strategies and practices to become a supportive workplace, which includes communication, policies, and even infrastructure.
Recruiters must undergo training to identify and mitigate biases while embracing inclusive hiring practices, such as using gender-neutral language in job descriptions, conducting structured interviews, and seeking diverse perspectives.
“Inclusive communication is essential for creating a welcoming environment for interviewees and promoting the company as a supportive workplace.”
Effective communication at every stage of the hiring process plays a significant role in encouraging diversity. Employers can explicitly express their openness to the LGBTQ+ community in job postings and incentivize referrals within the community. Companies can also utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reduce unconscious bias in recruitment and evaluation processes with transparent, fair, and ethical algorithms.
Partnering with Diversity-friendly Communities
A great way to foster diversity and inclusion while demonstrating social responsibility is to partner with organizations and communities to hire LGBTQ+ talent. These partnerships can grant companies access to a diverse talent pool and help overcome barriers such as stigma and discrimination.
By learning from successful LGBTQ+ inclusion initiatives, companies can implement best practices in policies, training programs, benefits such as access to health insurance, and infrastructure such as gender-neutral washrooms. These initiatives increase organizational value and positively impact society.
“Inclusive policies and practices, such as providing same-sex partner benefits and anti-discrimination clauses, create a supportive environment for all employees regardless of their gender identity or expression, thereby giving a positive push in achieving diversity and inclusivity goals of companies.”
Companies That are Setting Examples
Several companies have already taken positive steps to promote LGBTQ+ hiring in India.
All this said, it is my firm belief though, that change, and acceptance are behaviors that need to be driven right from the top leadership, whether it is in context of our nation, or in an organization. That singular push, to my mind, can make all the difference in making our world truly “a coat of many colors”.