Third Edition of Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit concludes in Mumbai
Third Edition of Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit concludes in Mumbai
Date: Jun 5, 2016
Participants, volunteers and speakers at the 2016 Indian LGBT Youth Leadership Summit
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) in association with Love Matters and with the support of Godrej, Barclays, Fondation de France, Humsafar Trust, RNW Media, Rainbow Solidarite, Pink Pages magazine and Gay Bombay. On day one, the summit was hosted by the Godrej Industries group at its sprawling new headquarters in Mumbai- Godrej One. On day two, the summit was held at The Lalit.
The objective of the summit- which is an annual event, is to identify potential leaders among LGBT Indian youth and groom them for future leadership roles. More than two hundred and fifty young LGBT people between the ages 18 and 28 had applied, among whom 35 were selected based on their leadership potential and willingness to engage on LGBT issues. The participants were a diverse group of men, women and transgender persons from various professional, educational and cultural backgrounds - coming from many Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru among others. This year, the summit also saw participation of delegates from Sri Lanka and Nepal. The theme for the summit this year was “Coming out and coming together” with a focus on workplace inclusion.
Launch of key report on workplace inclusion of LGBT employees in corporate India
The findings of the Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey 2016 was launched at the event. The survey was conducted by the research team at MINGLE with the aim of assessing the workplace environment vis-à-vis LGBT employees in corporate India. It covered one hundred LGBT employees from three sectors of the economy- Information Technology, Banking & Finance and FMCG & Manufacturing. The Survey brought out some disturbing findings. 40% report facing harassment at workplace while one in five people faced discrimination from their managers or HR. Only 48% are covered by non-discrimination policy, i.e., every second person surveyed can be legally fired just for being LGBT. The Survey also showed that “out” employees at work are consistently more engaged, more productive and loyal to the organizations compared to closeted employees.
The survey also reaffirms the perception that openly LGBT employees are better contributors and feel safer at the workplace compared to those who are closeted. Openly LGBT employees- as compared to their closeted counterparts- have greater trust in their employers, have greater satisfaction with their rate of promotion, feel more loyal to their organization and are more likely to continue with the same company for a longer period of time. Their stress levels are also lower. 65% consider HR/diversity policies as major factor before joining an organization.
The launch of the report was followed by a keynote panel discussion on the survey findings. Fabrice Houdart (Human Rights Officer at UN HCR) 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.” Reacting to a question that most multinationals do not replicate their global LGBT friendly policies in India, 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.”
Radhika Vaidyanathan from Community Business found it noteworthy that 44% respondents are “out” at home compared to just 25% to their colleagues. “This makes me hopeful because if people are comfortable at home, they can be comfortable elsewhere as well eventually.”
Parmesh Shahani, head of Godrej India Culture Lab addressing the audience consisting of many HR and diversity professionals from various large multinationals urged them to start taking steps on LGBT inclusion like the way Godrej has been doing over the last two years. “What is stopping you from doing so”, he asked.
The summit helped the youth leaders introspect on their personal challenges and becoming better leaders in general. “The workshops and the sessions during the two-day summit were reflective and made me think about the choices I would make. It also taught me that whatever challenges I am facing right now, the answers often lie within”, said Pracheta Mehta from Mumbai.
Saranga Wijerathna from Colombo said, “I was glad I got a chance to interact with LGBT youth leaders in India. Now I will be able to take back my experiences to Sri Lanka and help make progress through some of these methods and techniques.”
Rohit Bairagi from Gurgaon said, “The summit was both fun and enlightening. I will take back the learnings and implement them in my own initiatives like starting an employee resource group in my company American Express.”
MINGLE (Mission for Indian Gay & Lesbian Empowerment) is first of its kind LGBT think-tank and advocacy group consisting of academicians, students and professionals from fields as diverse as the Arts and Sciences, Journalism, Law, Medicine, Management and Engineering. Its vision is a truly liberal and pluralistic India where all citizens enjoy their fundamental right to lead a secure and dignified life irrespective of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Over the last five years, MINGLE has partnered with Community based organizations, Corporates and Universities across India, acting as a catalyst for positive change to happen for LGBT Indians and their families and friends.
About Love Matters
Love Matters is the first ever bi-lingual multimedia project that delivers blush-free information and news on love, sex & relationships for young adults in India. It is a place to talk about sex with an open, honest, and non-judgmental attitude. Love Matters India was launched in 2011 and has now expanded to China, Latin America, Kenya and Egypt.
While talking about pleasure is our main aim, we also focus on safe sex. We see sex as a wonderful thing to explore, share, and enjoy. And we think that if you provide young people with honest and positive information and news on sex, they are more likely to have safer and healthier sexual lives.
Love Matters Indian sites have had more than 14 million visits so far and has a community of more than 800,000 Facebook followers. It is one of the top 20 finalists with Index on Censorship's 2016 Freedom of Expression Awards and among top 5 finalists in Digital Activism category. Love Matters also won the Award for Excellence & Innovation in Sexuality Education for being the most innovative sexual health project in the world in year 2013, from the World Association for Sexual Health.