Businesses have a responsibility to their employees to provide them with a workplace where they feel safe and comfortable. Clearly for many LGBT people, this isn’t currently the case. But if businesses were to introduce LGBT-supportive policies it could have an immediate effective on individuals, leading to less discrimination and increased openness.
Why LGBT-friendly policies are important
The Business Impact of LGBT-Supportive Workplace Policies report by the Williams Institute found that LGBT employees who make an effort to hide their identity in the workplace experience higher levels of stress and anxiety, which can lead to health problems and work-related complaints. By introducing LGBT-friendly policies and ensuring that they are implemented, businesses can reduce the impact on individuals’ wellbeing.
Although tech and media companies in India are becoming more LGBT-friendly, male-dominated sectors like agrochemicals, pharma and mining are far behind. Ahmedabad-based GSP Crop Science Pvt Ltd. is trying to change that. This agrochemicals firm manufactures a wide range of “technical” and “formulations” of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides (crop protection solutions) and plant regulators for Indian agriculture and farming community.
Taking the lead
The company has big plans for the LGBT community, a first in the Indian agrochemicals sector. It is committed to create a queer-friendly workspace, and is formulating policies that don’t discriminate against anyone based on their background or preferences.
Tirth Shah – Executive Director and International Business Director, GSP Crop Science told The CSR Journal, “We are launching a company-wide ‘Grow Beyond’ initiative that includes an Inclusive Policy to break the stigma you see in Indian culture. They have an Unbiased Hiring Process for anyone (believing in talent) who wants to apply for employment. It would have an additional budget included in recruiting LGBT community employees as well as creating policies that recognizes the needs of the employees.
Shah spent eight years studying and working in the US where he observed how important it is for businesses to be inclusive. On his return to India to run the family business, he decided to bring more changes in the way things worked. “My family has always been open-minded; we never discriminate on basis of gender or sexual orientation. Diversity has always been an important concept at our company. Our corporate offices have 35% women in the workforce. We have always hired people on a merit basis. Now we are working on an LGBT friendly policy, from hiring to retention to keeping people from the LGBT community happy and feeling safe,” he says.
As well as the benefits for LGBT individuals, there’s also a financial argument for businesses being LGBT-supportive. Inclusive policies help to avoid the negative image that comes with LGBT discrimination, which in turn can help to attract customers who are specifically looking for socially responsible businesses to receive their custom. This is particularly true of millennials and Gen Zers who tend to place higher importance on social responsibility than their older counterparts.