The Growing Importance of the LGBTQ+ Community in Corporate Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives

Who are the Members of the LGBTQ+ Community and what is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

The LGBTQ+ community is comprised of those individuals who embrace non binary gender and sexual identities, or in other words, those who do not conform to the traditional categorization of humans into men and women, the so-called binary classification.

Thus, the LGBTQ+ community members do not identify as belonging to the binary identities and instead, embrace a “rainbow” mix of single or multiple gender and sexual identities.

In recent years, world over, there has been a move towards more representation from this community across the vertical and horizontal economic, social, and political arenas.

This has resulted in corporates worldwide making a concerted effort to recruit more members from the LGBTQ+ community and enhancing their importance in the overall DEI or Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity initiatives.

Indeed, it is not uncommon now for America Inc. and India Inc. as well as European firms to declare upfront that their hiring targets now include a specified number of LGBTQ+ community members.

This has also led to the greater coordination between corporates and the community focused organizations in the nonprofit and other sectors with a view of increasing LGBTQ+ community participation.


Why America Inc. and India Inc. Must Go Beyond “Window Dressing” and Instead Embrace True DEI

Having said that, it is not that the new found interest in the LGBTQ+ community by India Inc. or for that matter, America Inc., is necessarily a good thing.

For one, just setting hiring targets and fulfilling them does not serve any purpose, if there is no corresponding sensitization of the employees in the corporates.

Sensitization refers to the way in which the LGBTQ+ community members ought to be treated and “safe spaces” created in the corporates.

Absent empathy and understanding of the needs of the community, mere hiring would only lead to attrition from them, as lack of acceptance and for that matter, discrimination, would deter them from continuing in their jobs.

Indeed, much like DEI became popular a decade ago for its focus on women in corporates, there is no meaningful change in the plight of the LGBTQ+ community members, unless there is more social and societal acceptance of the diversity of identities and the need for inclusive participation.

Thus, this is the key challenge for America Inc. and India Inc. as they strive to be more diverse and inclusive in their organizational strategies. It goes without saying that social and cultural mores play an important part.

Much Like It Took Years to “Mainstream” DEI for Women, the Focus on LGBTQ+ Would Pay Off

Of course, one cannot be too pessimistic about DEI initiatives of corporates worldwide. For one, it is good to start somewhere and hiring more community members is definitely a good beginning.

Much like it took years of sustained effort to “mainstream” working women, the DEI of the LGBTQ+ community too would bear results sooner than later.

Moreover, absent legal backing for recognition of the community as a distinct gender and sexual identity based, India Inc. is limited in what it can do.

Add the aforementioned social and societal attitudes and one gets an idea of the scale and the difficulty of the challenges ahead.

In other words, it is not just India Inc. that needs to step up, but, the broader political, judicial, administrative, and societal stakeholders too need to join hands to push for greater representation of the LGBTQ+ community in all spheres of public life.

For instance, until recently, the Indian government did not recognize the existence of the Third Gender in official matters.

It is only now that there has been a determined move to accord recognition to the LGBTQ+ community through administrative and judicial actions. This is a good start and hopefully, lead to societal change.

The LGBTQ+ Community Needs to Rise to the Occasion and Society Too Must Embrace DEI

While the discussion so far has focused on the “superstructure” of support and DEI of the LGBTQ+ community, we shall now look at how the members of this community too need to overcome their mental and emotional roadblocks when they begin careers in corporates.

Indeed, given that most of the community members have been through traumatic experiences and face daily challenges as well, it takes a lot for them to transcend all that and contribute meaningfully to their corporate employers.

This is where skilled counselors and therapists can play a part in ensuring that their psychological wellbeing is intact and their sense of identity too remains strong when they are in their jobs.

While this seems unrealistic to many, it is a fact that India Inc. is making a push towards more DEI of the LGBTQ+ community and we do believe that a sustained, unrelenting, and determined policy of DEI can make the difference a few years down the line.

Moreover, there is also more social and societal acceptance worldwide and at the same time; there is also more targeted violence at these communities. The LGBTQ+ community members too need to step up and take more responsibility over their lives.

A “True” DEI!

Last, it all boils down to acceptance of differences and celebrating diversity. In times of extreme polarization and partisanship, some firms in America Inc. and India Inc. may balk at DEI for the LGBTQ+ community, fearing a backlash.

This is something that business leaders need to work on to convince and persuade corporates worldwide to ramp up their DEI with more focus on the LGBTQ+ community.

There needs to be both a top down and bottom up approach to DEI and its success is as good as what the corporates want, either “true” DEI or just “window dressing” policy initiatives.

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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)

The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to and the content page url.

Organizational Diversity