India legalises same-sex relationships ….but is it enough?

Tue, September 11, 2018

It’s absolutely fantastic to hear that India, the largest democracy in the world has final legalised same-sex relationships by retracting Section 377.  Gay sex has been illegal in India since the introduction of Section 377 in 1861. This move will have a significant impact on the social fabric of a society where LGBT+ individuals so long maligned - will be free to be their authentic selves. 

However, behaviours in the workplace may take a while to reflect this momentous moment.    In a recent study outlines that a majority of Indian employees are subjected to unequal treatment owing to their gender, ethnicity, or appearance.

The study (based on interviews with over 2,000 Indian employees) goes on to state that while most employers like to talk about their diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies, not many want to discuss how their diverse workforce is holding up. 

The study goes on to state that:

  • Over a half (57%) denied that their organisation openly recruited individuals from the LGBTQ community or people with disabilities. 
  • 54% of the respondents also admitted to hesitating while openly expressing their sexual orientation and cultural values, thinking, it might impact their career (29%); 26% thought it would encourage colleagues to make fun of them, and 23% feared judgement by their colleagues.

So what does this change mean for the global investment management industry?  In our recent article published in Ignites Asia (Financial Times) LGBT Great outlines how the Investment Management industry can continue to wield its influence to push for parity of opportunity for LGBT+ people regardless of gender, marital status or sexuality.  

One such advocate is Fidelity International. They exemplify how a leading, influential commercial firm actively takes steps to promote inclusion where they respect and value all for their unique perspectives and experiences.

In light of the recent decision, Lorraine Rodrigues, Global Head of Diversity and inclusion states:  

“We welcome the Supreme courts decision to de-criminalise consensual gay sex.  Today’s decision is a landmark decision because it sets the moral tone for society in India that an individual’s sexual orientation cannot be grounds for discrimination or persecution at home, at schools and universities, in the workplace and in any other aspect of an individuals life. 

Legalising Gay sex sends a strong message to family members of LGBTI people that they no longer need to fear or suffer the stigma of being Gay; it sets the moral tone at schools and universities on the rights of LGBT students to an environment free of persecution.  It sends a strong message of support to corporates who have been advocates of LGBT human rights to dignity, privacy and equality.

The decision goes a long way in strengthening confidence in the judicial process of the worlds largest democracy.

Above all it is liberating for the millions of LGBT people in India who have endured the stigma of section 377, a law introduced 157 years ago to criminalize an individuals fundamental right to privacy and the freedom to choose their sexual partner.

Today’s decision is about respect. It is a win for humanity.”

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What gets measured gets done. That is why we collect diversity metrics on both our candidates and clients in line with the Data Protection and Equality Acts. This allows us to identify areas requiring additional focus and also to measure progress across the industry. With biases prevalence through the employee lifecycle we actively utilize our diversity data to demonstrate where barriers exist and to create solutions to overcome them.