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What does true inclusion at the workplace look like? And why does it matter in the larger world around us?
Being only a year away from completing two whole decades into the 21st century, the world as we know it has come a long way. India abolished its notorious section 377 in 2018! We saw a #MeToo movement of our own!
At the same time, we began to see more scrutiny of how workplaces treat their employees, and Inclusion became a word more common in our lexicon. As organized employment grows in India and we see the rise of large corporations, naturally, the policies of these corporations influence society and how corporations include all their employees becomes even more important.
The glass ceiling might not be shattered yet, but efforts to promote inclusivity have the capacity to bring us closer and closer to it. Moreover, it isn’t just women, but members of the LGBTQ+ community, and specially-abled people too who need an access to this space that has always been largely masculine and ableist.
These were some of the thoughts that came to me as I had the opportunity to attend I-Inspire, a conference on inclusion organised by BeyonDiversity.
Held this year on April 5th, this event brought together conversations between people who truly believe in the cause of inclusion, and inspirations like Zainab Patel (a transgendered woman and one of the petitioners in the National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India case on transgender rights), Sandeep Bidani (one of India’s first differently abled senior HR Leaders), Jabna Chauhan (youngest Sarpanch of the country) and Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi (captain of ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’) who spoke about their lives.
The focus of conversations this year was on how to not only include the above groups into the workforce but also look at how many of them were getting access to bigger management roles. The reason behind applying these policies shouldn’t just be as a token gesture for compliance reasons, but be imbibed into the culture of the firm itself.
The panels also focused on being better allies to the LGBTQ+ communities, not just as a corporation with its policies but also at the level of the individual. Zainab Patel, in a panel titled ‘Beyond Bias: Unboxing Diversity,’ put the agenda succinctly when she said, “Go ahead. Recruit. Embrace the community”. In her heartfelt speech, Zainab spoke about her struggles on feeling alienated, still, from her own friends, and in spite of that, she went ahead to recognize her own position of relative privilege that others from her community do not have.
Along with this, the heartwarming story of Jabna Chauhan, who fought hard through extreme poverty to go to college and went on to become the youngest Sarpanch of India had the audience standing and clapping in awe of this 21 year old woman. She was also awarded for her courage and brilliance in the face of adversity by the organisers.
Carrying forward these ideas, the conference also touched on making the factory level too favourable to somebody who was not an abled cis-male, and on the importance of investing in women to prepare for a wholesome, holistic future that takes everyone along.
With numerous leaders from big firms attending, it was an interesting way to spend the day listening to people talk about things they felt passionate about, the urgency of their cause and the significance of being an ally to make this world a better place for all of us.
Women’s Web is proud to be an outreach partner to I-Inspire, enabling diversity and inclusion in the workforce.
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18// New Delhi, India
A literature student on the path of her identity. I like
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