Rainbow hues are taking over corporate offices, retail stores, brand logos, social media, apparel collections and even book publishing this month.
As major cities in India get set to host parades to celebrate queer culture in the designated Pride month of June, companies in India are taking it up a notch to join the party.
From ‘Know Your Pronouns’ awareness talks for employees to organising solidarity walks with the LGBTQ+ community and curating queer literature reading lists, they are taking pride in showing they are against prejudice.
GE is all set to organise pride marches across 12 of its India campuses, including Bengaluru, Vadodara, Hyderabad, Hosur, and Noida among others.
Last year, its walks had attracted around 1,500 participants. This year, it expects a far higher turnout of employees, allies and community members at these walks, which will be attended by senior GE Leadership as well.
KPMG is partnering with a queer film festival and hosting a screening of select films at its offices. “We feel that films can be a great medium for creating a heightened sense of awareness among employees as it breaks barriers and brings people closer,” Sunit Sinha, head of people, performance and culture (PPC) at KPMG, told businessline.
KPMG also plans to host focused discussions with “Rainbow Parents” (parents of children belonging to the LGBTQ+ community), and deep-dive interventions and observance messages on queer inclusion, like encouraging employees to include their pronouns where possible and engaging the LGBTQ+ community as vendor partners for its in-office events, he added.
Wine and spirits group Pernod Ricard is celebrating Pride by launching Employee Resource Groups for the LGBTQ+ community. Zainab Patel, Lead Inclusion and Diversity, Pernod Ricard India, said, “An inclusive communication guide has also been developed to help team members communicate with LGBTQ+ persons.”
Gaysi Family, a digital content space for queer desis, is hosting a string of queer-centric events spread across June in Delhi, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. This includes ‘Queer Made Weekend,’ a collaboration with Tinder India, which Gaysi co-founder Sakshi Juneja describes as “a grand-scale festival” curated by queer people and open to all.
Gaysi’s events for Pride 2023 aim to promote queer bands, pop-up stores, artists and theatre. The platform is also collaborating with Indigo Airlines on a queer-inclusion and sensitivity magazine for the airline’s employees.
The question posed by activists however is whether the actions go beyond symbolism in a designated month? As Sharif D Rangnekar, a workplace culture consultant and author of ‘Straight to Normal: My Life as a Gay Man’, points out, “These actions mean little, he added, if there is no meaningful action throughout the year.
What corporates need to do is to grasp that the time for equity has come. They need to make adjustments: whether it is training, skilling, or understanding the mental health and emotions of queer people.”
To be fair, apart from talks and marches, change is seeping into some corporate offices in genuine ways. Companies like Cummins India, Airbnb India have installed gender neutral washrooms in their premises. Several companies have revised dress codes to allow for gender neutral dressing and even cross dressing.
With a significant proportion of millennials and Gen Zs, who now comprise a big chunk of the corporate workforce, standing strongly with the LGBTQ+ community, companies, perhaps, have no choice but to join the Pride parade.