Info-tech

Cognizant gets gay-friendly: to sponsor sex change operations

Varun Aggarwal MUMBAI | Updated on November 28, 2018

Cognizant is taking cues from its Philippines operations where LGBTQ workforce forms 10-15 percent of its employee strength of over 7,500.

The New Jersey-based tech services giant is taking cues from its Philippines operations where LGBTQ workforce forms 10-15 percent of its employee strength of over 7,500.

As corporate India struggles to create inclusive policies for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community after the Supreme Court decriminalized gay relationships in the country, New-Jersey based Cognizant is offering them free sex change operations and health insurance for their partners.

The New Jersey-based tech services giant is taking cues from its Philippines operations where LGBTQ workforce forms 10-15 percent of its employee strength of over 7,500.

“We have a large team in Philipines. We’ve gone through a learning curve and we had to figure out things such as the dress code. Initially we were asking them to wear men's clothes. Eventually we let the choice to them. They could dress as they felt appropriate,” Sumithra Gomatam, President, Cognizant Digital Operation, told BusinessLine.

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The employees in Philippines were offered insurance policies that included sex change operations among other benefits. And now the same policies are being brought to the company’s India operations where it has majority of its workforce.

“We’ve taken cues from the same to create the Cognizant India Medical Insurance coverage for LGBTQ workforce with a vision to support inclusion, transition and assimilation of associates with different orientation needs and provide quality healthcare to those who need them. Associates can cover same sex partners (domestic partners) for health insurance as long as they have acceptable proof of living in the same residence. The policy also covers surgeries that cover Mastectomy and Hysterectomy,” Gomatam said.

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Cognizant expects the new policy will help the company retain top talent which otherwise could be unfairly treated only because of their gender or sexual preferences.

“People who didn’t have an identity are claiming them. Each business has a goal on how they hire from different communities, how do they develop careers and retain top talent irrespective of their sexual preferences,” Gomatam said.

Cognizant’s LGBTQ inclusion guidelines will cover workforce equality, inclusion, anti-discrimination, socialization with peer group/key stakeholders and counseling support for associates and peer group.

“We have been trying to bring about the policy change for the past few months but since our insurance renewals happen in November, the changes in insurance policy for the LGBT community came into effect from 15th of November. We’ve already had requests for coverage of sex change operations under insurance from three people,” Gomatam said.

Gomatam said the company will go beyond just sponsoring the sex change operations and also take the employees through the desired couseling sessions. “We’re looking at offering them counselling help, changing their teams if required, sensitizing team members about the change as they would have to be sensitive towards their male colleague turning into a woman.”

Senior leaders in each locations are being counselled as well to deal with the changes. “We are taking top 100 people in each location and sensitizing them towards what it means when someone wants to go ahead with the change (sex change). We want to create the right atmosphere for the people who want to go through this change,” Gomatam said.

 

Published on November 27, 2018

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