MUMBAI | BENGALURU: Towards the end of 2015, Shashi Tharoor did his bit with an unsuccessful Bill in the Lok Sabha to decriminalise gay sex. Earlier, in an unrelated event, Arun Jaitley publicly said the Supreme Court should “reconsider” its 2013 decision which upheld an 1860 law criminalising gay sex. But it is not politicians or ministers, but India Inc which is likely to emerge the biggest and most effective flagbearer of gay rights in 2016.
Despite the present criminal status of gay sex, a handful of firms such as Godrej, Genpact, Intuit, ThoughtWorks, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Google, etc, is openly championing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender) rights.
In October, Radhika Piramal, managing director, VIP Industries, spoke openly about her gay sexual journey. Hosting her, and giving her a platform to speak, was the Godrej India Culture Lab.
“Over the past few years our clearly articulated focus on LGBT issues has been incredibly useful to all employees,” says Parmesh Shahani, who heads Godrej India Culture Lab. “It has not only enabled more people from the LGBT community to come out, but has done great work for employer branding because young India wants to work for companies that are plural and celebrates them for who they are,” adds Shahani, who is out as gay.
Others such as Genpact work proactively to create a safe and inclusive working environment for those from the LGBT community, not just within company premises but outside too. “We actively participate in events — like the recent LGBT career fair in London — to build this diverse talent pool,” says Sasha Sanyal, senior vice-president (corporate strategy & initiatives), Genpact.
“We would be delighted if something similar was organised in India as well and would be amongst the first to get involved.” On May 17, the international day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Nisaba Godrej, executive director of Godrej Consumer Products, sent out an email to all employees.