In a move towards gender inclusion, Tamil Nadu has partnered Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) to offer a 5 per cent job reservation for LGBTQAI+ and people with disabilities at GCPL’s upcoming fast-moving consumer goods manufacturing unit in Thiruporur in Chengalpattu district.
According to industry experts and activists, while companies acknowledge transgender communities, this is the first time the entire spectrum of gender minorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (one’s sexual or gender identity), asexual and intersex, is receiving such a notable share of job participation in the private sector while signing memoranda of understanding with states.
“For states like Karnataka and Odisha, the government has kept 1-2 per cent reservation in public sector jobs for transgender people.
"However, the private sector has not collaborated with the government to create a manufacturing plant with a 5 per cent reservation for LGBTQAI before.
"Only Godrej has done this,” said Srini Ramaswamy, co-founder of Pride Circle, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm.
Over the past five years, Pride Circle has facilitated blue-collar and white-collar job placements for over 2,000 people from the community.
“Other than Godrej, Tata, Infosys, Wipro, Mahindra Group, and Reliance are Indian groups that predominantly hire from the community.
"We have a tie-up with all of them.
"We do job placements and training,” Ramaswamy added.
Interestingly, the numbers also indicate that India is a more inclusive place than other countries.
According to a Deloitte survey on LGBTQAI+ workplaces, over 60 per cent of Indian respondents work for an employer that demonstrates commitment to LGBTQAI+ inclusion both internally and externally, compared to 35 per cent globally.
Take the case of Godrej Industries and Associate Companies (GILAC), which claims that around 120 employees (both on-roll and off-roll) have identified themselves as part of the community.
“Of course, there are many more, but as an organisation, we respect the confidentiality of our employees and provide all support to them, whether they choose to be out or not,” said Parmesh Shahani, head, Godrej DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Lab, GILAC.
How the hiring process works
According to Godrej, it communicates LGBTQAI+ inclusive policies and practices through LinkedIn posts and ensures that job descriptions are crafted accordingly.
Additionally, teams are sensitised, including the talent acquisition team and hiring managers.
Organisations also partner LGBTQAI+ hiring consultants like Pride Circle, Vividhataa, PeriFerry, and non-governmental organisations like Tweet Foundation and Humsafar Trust.
“We have seen that internships are a great way to build the talent pool in the community.
"Godrej Properties has launched a PRIDE Internship, a nine-month internship programme that provides on-the-job training along with mentorship from a Godrej leader and regular feedback mechanisms.
"This internship is currently seeing its sixth batch, and more than 10 PRIDE interns have joined as full-time employees,” said Shahani.
“In addition, Godrej Properties has hired recruiters from the LGBTQAI+ community; this has helped the company connect with candidates better and handhold them through the process,” he added.
Experts from the hiring sector believe that discrimination is still forcing people to stay away from revealing their identities.
“Numerous multinational corporations and young startups, particularly those dominated by millennials and GenZs, have recognised the significance of inclusivity.
"By nurturing an open culture and implementing inclusive policies, they provide a safe haven for the LGBTQAI community within their workplace.
"Despite strides made, many individuals within the LGBTQAI community continue to conceal their identities due to the pervasive fear of discrimination and potential career setbacks,” said Santhosh Nair, director and chief operating officer of CIEL HR, which provides workforce and skilling solutions.
“This is the first time the entire LGBTQAI group is getting recognised. Normally, the reservations used to start and end with transgender people.
"This is a great initiative,” said Aishwarya Rutuparna Pradhan (formerly Ratikanta Pradhan), India’s first openly transgender civil servant.