Companies recruit LGBT+, but right talent rare

Companies recruit LGBT+, but right talent rare

MUMBAI: From community networks and referral programmed to hiring consultants, organisations are actively looking at building a skilled pool of LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, ‘plus’) workers in their journey to become truly inclusive. This comes nearly a year after the Supreme Court removed Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, decriminalizing homosexuality.

Getting the right skills, however, is a challenge. Organisations like RBS India, Accenture and IBM have launched exclusive internship programme for transgender candidates with the objective of introducing them to the corporate culture and mainstreaming those who are marginalized into professional jobs.

RBS India’s internship programme is intended to sensitise transgender candidates on such varied subjects as banking compliance, email etiquette and communication skills. RBS India VP (talent, diversity & inclusion) Sakshi Kashyap said, “Given that a section of the transgender community has been denied opportunities and some of them even face social and economic stratification, getting skilled workers is certainly a challenge.
Not everyone in the community has completed graduation and are currently employed in non-allied fields like theater and bakery, that too at junior levels. We choose the best candidates through referrals and consultants and intend to give them an ups killing journey through our internship programmer.”

RBS India plans to absorb these candidates in best suited roles in HR, data analysis and basic level data entry in banking operations. Work is also under way to sensitise all employees to provide for an inclusive environment.

Accenture in India is currently piloting a six-month, inclusive internship programme aimed at building a skilled talent pool of transgender candidates, while providing them an opportunity to bring new, innovative ideas to the workplace. Rohit Thakur, MD & lead (human resources) at Accenture in India, said, “The on-the-job learning opportunity is designed to help interns augment their work experience, hone relevant skills, develop career goals, and establish useful connections for the future.”

IBM, which seeded ‘Project Vayati’ to upskill and empower members of the marginalised transgender community, strongly relies on referrals as a tool to hire from the LGBT+ community. IBM also has a career framework policy exclusively for LGBT+ people. IBM India diversity & inclusion leader Prachi Rastogi said, “Some of them have been marginalised in a way. We make sure there’s a career framework to help them grow.”

Organisations are increasingly becoming conscious of ensuring a culture of equality by creating a level playing field for all, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Programmes are designed to enable people to bring their authentic selves to work, providing a safe and open environment for LGBT people, “where they feel free to share their experiences, inspiring not just other members of the community, but also sensitise non-LGBT people, who are known as allies”, said Thakur.

Companies have broad-based their search by roping in consultants. Jyotika Raisinghani Dhawan, CEO of Helix HR, which deals in inclusive hiring, including LGBT+, said, “In India, only a few organisations are truly inclusive when it comes to hiring, including LGBT+ employees. Most companies stop short at hiring only women to meet their gender diversity targets.”

Within Helix HR’s hiring space, Dhawan said only 20% companies focus on inclusive hiring. “Even when we get mandates, one is cognisant that for most companies it’s mere tokenism, where a company hires a transgender person or a person with disability to show some numbers. Companies need to understand that mere hiring is not the milestone that one needs to achieve. Inclusion needs to be a core value in Indian organisations and not just a policy that recruiters conform to. Inclusion increases productivity and has an ROI (return on investment) beyond a poster value of more women, people with different sexual orientation or specially abled people,” said Dhawan.

Progressive companies have brought about policy changes like extending medical covers and parental leaves to LGBT+ employees. Companies also offer mentor ship from ‘proud out’ executives and counselling programmed. Accenture enabled its systems so that people can use their preferred name without the need to provide any documentation.