RISE (Re-imagining inclusion for social equality), said to be India's first job fair dedicated to the LGBTQI community, saw a wide variety of issues being discussed from the need for ‘all-gender’ washrooms to planning larger policies that ensure equality to all in the workplace.
Organised by Pride Circle in Bengaluru on Friday, 36 companies participated and scouted for potential candidates amongst a talent pool of 300 people who had registered. Pride Circle plans to take this event to 10 other cities.
Apart from the job fair, the event had seminars and panel discussions regarding sensitivity and inclusion in the workspace.
During a question and answer session, potential reforms in a corporate environment to ensure accommodation of various sexual and gender identities were discussed.
Zainab Patel, national manager, health and human rights, UNDP India, suggested extending benefits to partners of all employees, providing an inclusive medical insurance and a quota for hiring people of marginalised communities.
Talking about inclusivity, companies stressed on the need to make members from the LQBTQI community feel comfortable and accepted, including health care, sensitisation of other workers and a strict anti-discrimination approach. Suggestions included child care leave regardless of gender and coverage of gender reassignment surgery in the insurance provided by a company.
A policy that was widely recommended was the senior leadership programme.
Parmesh Shahani, Head, Godrej India Culture Lab, said, "If the HR only talks about uplifting the community, there will be no impact in the company. But, if the senior leadership comes forward and sets policies in motion, it will send ripples across the company."
While candidates welcomed the job fair, there were suggestions to make it accommodative of people from different economic backgrounds, and providing opportunities to all based primarily on merit.
Tanu Shree, a transwoman from Bengaluru, said, "All the companies here are looking for people who speak fluent English. Most people from my community can only speak Kannada and broken English. There are virtually no opportunities for my friends and me here."
Arun from Gujarat expressed similar sentiments. He was excited about the opportunities, but his lack of a graduate degree and inability to express himself in English proved to be a major disadvantage during interviews, and is unsure of how fruitful his visit would turn out to be. But he added that the interviewers treated him with respect, which is a new experience for him.
Uber expressed support for the community by marking all in-app routes in Bengaluru in rainbow colours for the entire day.