The gender option in the job application form on the JP Morgan website
Bangalore - A radical initiative by India Inc led by two companies in particular, Wipro Technologies and JP Morgan Chase, has opened up new employment options for the transgender community in India.
For the first time these two companies have added the option for the third sex in their recruitment forms for Mumbai and Bangalore offices. The two companies are among several business powerhouses — such as Infosys, Google, Goldman Sachs — who have taken concrete initiatives to address the needs of their LGBT employees.
While JP Morgan Chase, the global financial services firm with investment, banking, retail and securities businesses, has added a ‘not specified’ option in the gender column in its application and recruitment forms, Wipro is to include ‘Others’ and ‘I do not wish to specify’ options apart from ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in the gender section.
Human resources personnel reveal that they are not seeking the data just to know the sexual orientation or gender of potential employees, but to create a healthy working atmosphere sans discrimination and affinity groups in offices. They claim that the data would be kept confidential in line with the company policy.
As does JP Morgan Chase. “I had applied for a position in JP Morgan Chase only a few days ago and I was surprised to find a third option apart from male and female in the preliminary form,” says Tejaswini Kumar, a senior level technical professional.
A recent survey by Indian thinktank Mingle found that openly gay employees have greater trust in their employers, are more likely to have entrepreneurial aims in the future, have greater satisfaction with their rate of promotion, feel more loyal to their organisation and are more likely to continue with the same company for a greater period of time — as compared to their closeted counterparts.
Goldman Sachs, which has over 4,000 employees in its Bangalore and Mumbai offices, has a GS India LGBT network for its LGBT employees. Over 300 employees have also signed up to be straight allies of this network.
IBM was one of the earliest companies to include sexual orientation in their diversity and inclusion policies.It included sexual orientationin the Manager’s Handbook in 1984 and subsequently added LGBT inclusion into their Equal Opportunity Policy. IBM’s LGBT employee resource group in India, known as EAGLE, is well developed and networked in the business community.
Google also has similar community initiatives. Google employees, along with friends and family, attended the 2011 Bangalore Pride Parade, proudly wearing their company shirts. Employees in India have even created an internal resource guide which provides information around how employees and managers can play an LGBT-inclusive role at Google.
Although Infosys does not ask for the data when hiring, it has what it calls a ‘diversity and inclusion’ office. In 2011,the company set up Infosys Gay Lesbian Employee and You employee network, an affinity group which aims to create a safe and respectful work environment for employees who are homosexual, bisexual or transgender.
Industry watchers say the new trend is a change for the better and would lift India Inc to a different league. E Balaji, CEO, Randstad, a global provider of HR services, says that as companies move to more and more markets on the global scene, the best practices ought to be imbibed by Indian majors.
“It is only natural that such HR practices are adopted by Indian companies, especially in the case of the IT sector when 90 per cent of clients and revenue come from the US and Europe,” Balaji said.