Bloomberg Equality Summit: India Inc. Needs To Think Beyond Just Rainbow Filters
Indian companies need to be more inclusive in their hiring and enforce anti-discrimination practices than just engaging superficial trends like rainbow stickers on their social media pages in the month of June. That’s according to Parmesh Shahani, founder, Godrej India Culture Lab.
“Now companies cannot hide behind the fig leaf of Section 377 [while hiring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer candidates] as it has been revoked,” Shahani said during a panel discussion at Bloomberg’s flagship Equality Summit in Mumbai—the first in Asia. “About two-thirds of LGBTQ people working in India report hearing homophobic remarks.”
Shahani said progressive customers care about brands standing for issues like LGBTQ rights and climate change and hence corporates should think beyond rainbow filters or hosting pep talks once a year and remaining homophobic for the rest of the year.
Being inclusive makes sense for companies. Assuming 6 percent of India is LGBTQ—it’s a $200-billion market. Even if you are homophobic and believe this is not a basic, decent exercise, do it because your audience demands it and there is money to be made. And, may be while doing this, you will come to your senses.Parmesh Shahani, founder, Godrej India Culture Lab.
Also, anti-discrimination laws in India were the need of the hour as the government has a critical role in addressing the stigma against the community, said Daniel Jae Won Lee, executive director, Levi Strauss Foundation. “Globally, only 10 countries have [anti-discrimination] protection laws currently.”
The Bloomberg Equality Summit brought together business and government leaders as well as activists for the first time in Asia to discuss inclusion and diversity. The key speaker at the event was Minister of Women & Child Development and Textiles Smriti Irani.
Watch the full conversation here.