Inclusion – A word that is thrown around a lot these days. What does it mean for us in India?
The work culture in India is more diverse as compared with other countries. The degrees of “woke”ness among employees from a mixed pot of cultural backgrounds is often staggeringly different within the same space. I started working at a corporate organization recently after working across different spaces in various sectors. I’ve always wondered how diversity practices would translate into a corporate space. And this is not just any corporate office, it is an organisation that works with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) for their client organizations; which made me wonder all the more as to how their internal understanding and practices would be.
KelpHR has been hiring people with a very diverse approach since its inception in 2013. It’s a workplace that comprises mostly women who hail from diverse backgrounds. And while, everyone we work with may not have the same level of gender awareness. It’s still ok! But I have seen a lack of sensitivity earlier in organizations that are working for gender, and towards gender, sexual and romantic minorities – GSRM (a term I prefer over LGBTQIA+, a strictly personal preference). We really have to ask, doesn’t change begin at home?
After working for a while, I experienced a kind of burnout when I realized that my identity is something that I don’t need to impose in any space. Being a professional who litigated in courtrooms; I have covered my identity and passed off as a cis heteronormative person. Because if we learn anything from working with a lot of diverse people, it is that your identity does not matter.
Honestly, I was perfectly okay with and in fact expecting everyone to treat me like a woman and call me a woman here. But when I joined KelpHR; a lot of people curiously yet sensitively asked me questions about why I put so many pronouns in front of my name. And mind you, there is a thin line between curiosity and insensitivity, but the Kelpers nailed it.
The awareness on queer existence and queer rights was pretty good here and people asked me for my pronouns before proceeding or assuming that I am comfortable with something. Having low expectations and being highly sceptical, I waited for any ‘wrong move’ by my new office so I could rant to my queer friends about my problems. But I was pleasantly surprised, and happy to be proved wrong.
Later, when I reflected on my experience, I realized that not bothering your employee about their identity is the bare minimum you can do to create a conducive environment for them. But what happens when you take a step beyond and ask them to establish their identity in whatever way possible and tell them to be unabashedly their true selves? This exactly is the thought that allows you to practice inclusion along with diversity. You allow the magic of diverse thoughts to come together and work in the same space. For an organization that’s working towards the betterment of gender minorities, this should be a bare necessity.
I want to close my thoughts by relating to the principles of Kenji Yoshino, the constitutional law professor who I am a fan of – we need to practice Diversity, Equity and Inclusion as a bare minimum and not as a radical concept within the corporate framework. It is possible to have a better workplace if you try enough for it. The freshness that comes from an all-inclusive workplace definitely brings about better results within the working environment and people feel like working towards making a difference to the organization they work for.
At KelpHR we believe that having a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace is the key to business transformation and growth and that we must be inclusive of all persons irrespective of any differences. To know more about KelpHR’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion solutions do call us at +91-95001-29652, email email@example.com, visit www.kelphr.com
KelpHR was incorporated in 2013 to provide the best HR solutions to organizations, and to improve workplace culture across the board. Over the last 8 years, we have serviced more than 700 clients in India and a few overseas, across various industries in the areas of PoSH (Prevention of sexual harassment at workplace), D, E & I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and EAP. But the common objective of all of these services is to build safer, happier, inclusive and productive workplaces.
For any of our other services related to Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) or Employee Assistance programs (EAP) do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +91-95001-29652 and we’d be able to help you with customized offerings suited to your organization.