The prevalence of LGBTQ+ networks has seen a substantial rise, with 82.5% of companies in the Most Inclusive Companies Index 2022 featuring such networks — a stark contrast to the less than 25% reported seven years ago. Indian IT companies are slowly warming up to breaking the stigma and introducing LGBTQ+ inclusive policies.
While Indian IT is at it, notable challenges persist, as merely 9.5% of Indian organisations have actively undertaken substantial initiatives in LGBTQ+ inclusivity, and recruitment efforts are predominantly concentrated at junior and middle management levels.
These policies not only nurture a workplace that embraces diversity and inclusivity but also position companies in accordance with global norms, making them more attractive to top-tier talent while enhancing the overall work experience for LGBTQ+ employees.
Interestingly, Tech Mahindra has a proactive policy for its queer community and is making efforts to make it inclusive and diverse. On the other hand, the rest of the Indian IT companies are catching up with new policies to support a diverse class of employees.
Tech Mahindra is an “Intentionally Diverse and Globally Inclusive” organisation that values and celebrates the uniqueness of every individual by fostering an environment of inclusion and empowerment. The company’s policies and practices are gender agnostic, with specific initiatives directed towards women and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Tech Mahindra has a policy that offers adoption leave for same-sex couples, allowing them to avail 12-week paid adoption leave. The organization’s focus on diversity extends to gender, generation, differently-abled individuals, culture, and LGBTQ+ community, and it encourages all employees to be themselves and feel valued for their uniqueness.
CP Gurnani, the MD and CEO of Tech Mahindra, has expressed commitment to diversity and inclusion within the organisation. “Diversity is at the heart of every successful & connected organisation,” he said recognising the richness and strength brought by the diversity of thought, culture, and abilities of colleagues from over 90 countries at Tech Mahindra.
Tech Mahindra’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in its hiring practices, career development programs, flexible policies, and initiatives aimed at promoting the physical and financial well-being of its employees. The team organized a pride walk in June at their Bengaluru campus to celebrate Pride month and show support and solidarity to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Wipro too has a comprehensive Global Policy to prevent LGBTQ+ discrimination, aiming for a discrimination-free work environment. The policy underscores equal rights and the need to uphold the dignity of LGBTQ+ individuals, with clear consequences for employees engaging in discrimination.
The company’s Pride framework guides LGBTQ+ initiatives, focusing on equity, policy review, leadership involvement, awareness sessions, and community engagement. Their Global Policy on Inclusion and Diversity further commits to fostering an inclusive and equitable culture, eliminating discrimination, and treating everyone with respect.
Wipro aligns with the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business against LGBTI discrimination, and their Pride Employee Resource Group provides a platform for LGBTQ+ employees and allies to share information and engage in discussions. Overall, Wipro’s D&I policy demonstrates a dedicated effort toward LGBTQ+ inclusion, incorporating specific measures to ensure a safe and respectful workplace.
The company also received a very high score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) 2022. Talking about the same, Sunita Cherian, chief culture officer and SVP, corporate HR, Wipro, said, “At Wipro, we are committed to creating an equitable and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community. We are honoured to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and applaud their efforts in supporting organizations to become more inclusive.”
Like its competitors, Salil Parikh-led Infosys also has a comprehensive policy to support LGBTQIA+ employees. Their DEI Charter, integral to the Code of Conduct, enforces respect for each individual and upholds equal employment opportunity practices, preventing discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity grounds.
“Our D&I charter draws inspiration from our values. Acting on the code, policies and practices, and leadership behavior are important facets of an inclusive ecosystem. Cultures get built and cemented in the micro ecosystems we each work in—our teams,” said Aruna Newton, global head of diversity & inclusion at Infosys.
Infosys has inclusive employee policies, such as health insurance in India that supports same-sex partners and covers gender confirmation surgeries, surrogacy, egg freezing, and mental health therapy. The company runs the #AllyForChange program, fostering allyship through self-reflection exercises, personal stories, and global practices.
The team also celebrates diversity through events like Pride Month and National Coming Out Day, using storytelling, expert talks, and activities like Rainbow Dressing and Paint for PRIDE. The IPRIDE Employee Resource Group is committed to a safe, inclusive workplace, focusing on education about sexual orientation, gender identity, and anti-discrimination policies.
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been actively engaged in enhancing diversity and inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees since 2014. Their efforts include comprehensive support for transgender employees during their transition, featuring orientation sessions to facilitate understanding and acceptance among teams.
TCS’s employment policies are inclusive and gender-neutral, focusing on preventing discrimination across various grounds, including gender identity.
On sensitisation programmes, Sheetal Rajani, head of diversity & inclusion, TCS, said, “Sensitisation programmes go a long way in promoting an intrinsic culture of diversity and inclusion within an organisation… At TCS, we were focused on building a culture of gender intelligence, and what inclusion really means”.
They work closely with NGOs like Humsafar Trust to provide sensitization training and share job opportunities, further cementing their commitment to LGBTQ+ rights. Initiatives like the Qolors network and storytelling sessions during the Pride month promote a culture of empathy and understanding, contributing to a safe and respectful work environment.
HCL Technologies has established comprehensive support for its LGBTQ+ employees. Key elements include the Pride@HCL ERG, a group dedicated to fostering a diverse, safe, and inclusive work environment. This ERG is active globally and focuses on education, policy guidance, and creating inclusive spaces.
“Diversity is the most sustainable driver of innovation and a primary genome of resilience. It is no surprise, therefore, that teams and organizations with a higher degree of diversity and inclusion almost always outperform those without them. At HCL, this has been one of our core guiding principles as a team, and a cultural differentiator that we are most proud of,” says C Vijayakumar.
HCL’s partnership with the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the largest LGBTQ conference globally, further demonstrates its commitment to inclusive workplaces. The company also operates the Pride@HCL Network, enhancing workplace diversity and inclusion. Additionally, HCL’s Inclusion Lab works to ensure equality and respect for all employees, reflecting its broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.