LGBTQ rights won another battle in the war for equal rights in India with the decriminalization of same-sex relationships in September 2018. This landmark ruling provides equal legal protection for India's citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, and is a huge step forward in fostering equality in the workplace.
Many organizations have been leading the charge in workplace equality, even in the absence of guidance from the government. These companies are taking global best practices and policies and applying and adapting them locally. While many have been large global multinational corporations (MNCs) that can look toward other offices as guidance, local companies can learn from them when it comes to providing equal benefits and creating a safe, supportive workplace.
We’ve talked about inclusivity as a journey in past stories. Whether you’re just beginning or are further along in creating an inclusive work environment, understanding the gaps between policies on the books and what’s happening on the ground is critical.
Conducting an internal HR audit is a great way to pulse check. For businesses just forging inclusive policies, it’s a good time to examine the coverage and policies in place that may need to be updated. For example, look into things such as:
- Insurance benefits coverage: are equal medical benefits offered to same sex and opposite sex partners
- Leave policies that may be discriminatory: adoption or family sick leave benefits that may only apply to same-sex couples
If your business already has these policies in place, it will be good to see where gaps may lie between policy and practice. As the famous saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast, so it’s important to understand if cultural acceptance of the polices at work is helping or hindering the new policies. You can consider this discussing a few simple questions with your team:
- Has the new policy been quietly implemented or are people aware of it?
- Has it been shared in front of large audiences i.e. all hands meeting, or townhall, or the most visible spot of the internal newsletter, for example?
- Have senior leaders stood behind and advocated for the policies?
- Have people managers been addressed separately as a key stakeholder group so that they understand the changes and what’s expected of them?
Once you have a clear picture of where there are gaps, it’s easier to create a plan of action that addresses three critical areas of inclusivity: insurance coverage, benefits policies and culture. While it might be a journey, without a commitment to all three areas businesses will fall farther behind more aggressive companies that are winning the war for talent. The good news is that we help businesses with this important journey every day and would be happy to have a conversation on where you are and where you’d like to be.