‘Inclusion is a way to make money, ensure innovation’

Godrej India Culture Lab launches manifesto to encourage trans inclusivity, employment in corporate sector

December 14, 2018 01:11 am | Updated 01:11 am IST

(From left) Abheena Aher, Parmesh Shahani, Zainab Patel, Anubhuti Banerjee, Neelam Jain, and Pearl Daruwalla at a panel discussion on Thursday.

(From left) Abheena Aher, Parmesh Shahani, Zainab Patel, Anubhuti Banerjee, Neelam Jain, and Pearl Daruwalla at a panel discussion on Thursday.

Mumbai: There are 4.9 lakh documented trans people in India. Yet, only 200 to 300 of them across the country have managed to gain employment in the private sector. According to the National Human Rights Commission, 92% of trans people are unable to participate in any economic activity. On Thursday evening, Godrej India Culture Lab launched the paper, ‘A Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian Workplace’ with the support of TWEET Foundation, Periferry, Community Business, Humsafar Trust and the Keshav Suri Foundation.

Before elaborating on the vital points of the manifesto, Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab, emphasised, “If you don’t be inclusive you will wither away and die,” he joked, adding the business case for LGBTQ and trans inclusion is one and the same.

“Inclusion is a way to make more money, ensure innovation and also create a favourable reputation for a company in the digital age,” he said. Mr. Shahani supported the claims with numbers. “If all the LGBTQ people in the world were an economy, we’d be the fourth largest economy in the world,” he said .

According to a 2009 study by Forbes India and Out Now Consulting, 6% of the Indian population is queer (closeted or out) which constitutes $200 billion spending power. “The cost of homophobia is [priced at] $32 billion and this is a very conservative number, that’s 1.7% of our GDP. Any government thinking of winning the election should consider this,” he said.

A panel discussion followed with Abheena Aher, head, TWEET Foundation & Founder, Dancing Queens; Pearl Daruwalla, advocacy officer, Humsafar Trust & Project TRANScend; Neelam Jain, CEO, Periferry; Anubhuti Banerjee, manager analytics & insights, Tata Steel; and Zainab Patel, trans activist and policy analyst, UNDP. The panellists touched upon discrimination against the third gender, preconceived prejudices, and ways to make trans people more comfortable in the work force.

The 80-page manifesto by Nayanika Nambiar with Mr. Shahani and designed by Mukta Pai has been in the works for a year.

The paper is broken up into three parts. There’s ‘Background: Culture, State, Society and the Law’; ‘The Business Case for LGBTQ Inclusion at Indian Companies’; and ‘Trans Inclusion and Our Recommended Strategy’. Additionally, the paper includes case studies and resources such as the Kochi Metro incident when trans people were successfully employed but had to give up their jobs after being rejected tenancy by multiple homeowners. It also cites the Third Eye Café in Navi Mumbai which has employed six trans people in the workforce.

At the end of the manifesto, an index offers valuable resources like support groups, inclusion agencies that aid trans employment efforts, legal support, and even mental health professionals.

A ‘Manifesto for Trans Inclusion in the Indian Workplace’ is available for free download at indiaculturelab.org/lgbtq/

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