The third edition of the Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit was organized in Mumbai over two days - 4th and 5th of June - by Mission for Indian Gay and Lesbian Empowerment (MINGLE).
Speaking at a panel discussion, Fabrice Houdart (Human Rights Officer at the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights - OHCHR), said that his organization is not neutral on the issue of LGBT equality and will work with partners in India to further the cause wherever possible.
‘One in five LGBT employees in India faced discrimination from their managers or HR.’
The panel discussion was about the findings of the Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey, 2016, which covered one hundred LGBT employees from three sectors of the economy- Information Technology, Banking & Finance and FMCG & Manufacturing.
The findings of the survey were disturbing. About 40% reported facing harassment at workplace. One in five people faced discrimination from their managers or HR.
Only 48% of the employees are covered by non-discrimination policy - every second person surveyed can be legally fired for being LGBT.
Fabrice said, "For me it was shocking to see the figure of 40% harassment- in the West, figures of around 7-8% are considered worrying."
Responding to a question on the UN's role in advancing LGBT equality in Indian workplaces, he said, "The United Nations is resolutely behind LGBT rights because we consider it an integral part of basic human rights. I know some countries claim that it is not part of their culture or tradition, but we must understand that tradition cannot trump human rights."
Fabrice spoke about his personal experiences in the workplace when he was closeted. "I used to be afraid of straight men- coming out gave me the courage to be my authentic self, and dispel the fears that were holding me back." Previously, Fabrice has worked at the World Bank where he became President of its LGBT Employee Resource Group, GLOBE. Currently, he works on the UN Free & Equal campaign, a global public education campaign LGBT equality.
Pooja Shahani, Diversity & Inclusion head of Goldman Sachs said, "At Goldman Sachs, we ensure that such policies are applied uniformly across the globe. But beyond policies, we are focusing a lot on creating an inclusive culture."
Ritesh Rajani, who co-leads the LGBT employee resource group at IBM, spoke about the importance of coming out and its impact on people in the workplace - "This gives me an opportunity to spread awareness, and sensitize a lot more people, which often percolates outside the workplace as well."