Pride Month is a significant commemoration of the long struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice for the LGBTQ+ community. It is a vibrant celebration that promotes awareness, inclusivity, and acceptance. The month of June marked as Pride Month, calls for our undivided attention towards the LGBTQ+ community.
Pride Month serves as a reminder of progress made and work yet to be done. The month-long celebration offers a platform to raise awareness, promote visibility, and advocate for equal rights. Colourful parades, rallies, and events demonstrate solidarity and unity within the LGBTQ+ community.
The Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk started in July 1999, is the oldest pride walk in India and South Asia. Initially known as “The Friendship Walk,” it holds a special place in the LGBTQ+ movement. The event emphasizes unity and acceptance, fostering community and pride among participants.
To celebrate Pride, CecureUs held a panel discussion to shine a light on the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of its diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The panel included Sqn Ldr Delshad Master and Carolyn Nitya Jawahar Shanthakumar who shared insights on their experiences and challenges in fostering LGBTQ+ awareness in the workplace.
Here are some takeaways from the panel discussion that can help organizations celebrate and embrace Pride in their spaces.
Our Panelists and Their Journey Into the LGBTQ+ Community
Delshad, the Founder of EdKronicles and an LGBTQ+ ally, embarked on a journey of compassion and active engagement with the queer community. As a Veteran of the Indian Air Force, she realized that despite the Armed India Forces being diverse, there were more opportunities to embrace diversity outside of that space. Witnessing the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, Delshad became committed to creating an inclusive environment. Through non-judgmental listening and removing biases, she offered vital support, leading to transformative moments like helping a skeptical parent find acceptance. Beyond queer affirmative counselling, Delshad engaged in LGBTQ+ advocacy, fostering safe spaces in the workplace. Her story inspires others to challenge biases, embrace allyship, and promote acceptance.
Carolyn Nitya Jawahar Shanthakumar, a dedicated ally and core member of SC Pride at Standard Chartered Bank, demonstrates resilience and commitment to driving workplace change. As a Senior Manager at SC, Carol actively advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusion, engaging with employee resource groups and supporting related initiatives. Recognizing the significance of a safe work environment, she has implemented policies fostering acceptance and understanding among colleagues.
Viji Hari, the CEO of CecureUs, is an accomplished professional with over 23 years of experience in the field. As a consultant, trainer, and subject matter expert in the Prevention of Harassment, Diversity & Inclusion, and Mental Wellness, Viji has worked with over 200 clients across India. Viji’s expertise also extends to helping organizations establish DEI charters, and she is the author of two books, “BCC: Behind Closed Cubicles” and “Break the Taboo.”
The panelists shared valuable insights during the panel discussion that can move mountains for the queer community. Here are some excerpts:
Overcoming Attitudinal Barriers and Fostering Inclusion
Delshad and Carol shed light on the attitudinal barriers that exist in the workplace and discuss strategies to overcome them, fostering inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
Overcoming attitudinal barriers requires a collective effort. Organizations must create an environment where diversity and inclusion are celebrated, and individuals are encouraged to challenge their own biases. By fostering a culture of empathy, respect, and understanding, attitudinal barriers can be gradually dismantled, leading to a more inclusive and accepting workplace for everyone.
The Power of Dialogue and Communication.
Pride Month is a time to reflect on the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community, such as rejection, discrimination, and prejudice. These experiences can lead to severe consequences like depression, trauma, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Addressing these issues and creating an environment of empathy, support, and harmony is crucial.
A Journey Towards Acceptance and Understanding.
The first step to accepting and understanding is knowing that Sex identity, gender and sexuality are three different terms. Sex identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of their gender, which may not necessarily align with their assigned sex at birth. Gender encompasses a range of identities beyond the binary of male and female. Sexuality refers to an individual’s emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to others. Gender expression relates to how individuals outwardly express their gender identity through appearance, behaviour, and presentation. Recognizing and respecting these differences is vital for creating inclusive environments that validate and honour diverse identities and experiences.
Introducing LGBTQ+ To Organizations
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are necessary to not only foster a safe workplace but also help improve retention and employee engagement in the workplace.
- An anonymous survey will help you understand how comfortable employees are in expressing their queer identities. When the ratio of employees who confidently express their queer identities crosses 5%, organizations can know that they are on the right track. However, this may only be the bare minimum.
- Carol advocated that organizations should introduce the concept of LGBTQ+ at the organization by starting small and gradually increasing awareness and education. She emphasized the idea that being different is not bad and challenged stereotypical boxes. Her approach aimed to create a more open-minded and accepting environment within the company. Her goal is to continuously increase the ratio above 5% and create a safe and inclusive workplace to tap into the benefits of introducing DEI in organizations.
- Leaders, Leading the Way – The role of leadership support in fostering inclusion is magnanimous. Leaders should actively advocate for inclusive policies and foster a culture of acceptance within the organization. By taking a proactive stance, leaders can set the tone for the entire workforce, promoting an environment where all employees feel safe and valued.
Initiatives at Standard Chartered Bank Setting an Example
Carol’s journey at Standard Chartered Bank provides insights into initiatives that have promoted LGBTQ+ awareness and acceptance within the organization. It began with the powerful message of embracing differences. Creating awareness and increasing education laid the foundation for inclusivity. Carol emphasized that being different is not negative and encouraged employees to break free from stereotypical boxes.
Over the years, various initiatives at Standard Chartered Bank have transformed employees’ thinking processes. Events like the “Human Library,” where individuals share personal stories and experiences, have fostered empathy and understanding. Pride Bazaar and Pride Concerts are also inclusive events that celebrate diversity and promote acceptance. Another such initiative is encouraging employees to add pronouns in signatures, which creates inclusivity in the workspace.
A Step Beyond the Boardrooms
As we celebrate Pride Month, it is essential to embrace a mindset of non-judgment and acceptance towards others’ appearances and preferences, not just within our workspaces but also out into the world. Let us commit ourselves to fostering an open-minded society where the LGBTQIA+ community can experience true freedom and acceptance. By challenging biases and promoting understanding, we can create a world where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued for who they are.
Together, let us stand for equality and celebrate the beauty of diversity in all its forms.
Click here to check out the full recording of the panel discussion.
Please reach out to us to know more about celebrating Pride Month , a journey towards inclusion and acceptance.