Prior to joining Symantec in 2012, I did not have a lot of exposure to people who belonged to the LGBTQ community, and I had no friends who identified as LGBTQ. That all changed when I got introduced to Chandra Moulee when we both joined Symantec in 2012, even though I was unaware that he identified as a gay person when we first met.
From the initial days, we shared a good rapport because many of our thought processes were in sync. It wasn't until around 2016 that I come to know that he identified as a gay man. I read a blog that he posted about how straight people discriminate against people belonging to the LGBTQ community in the workplace. The blog post put a lump in my throat and made me feel terrible. I knew something was wrong and I wanted to provide help, but I did not know how. I was also not sure how to open this topic with Moulee, because I did not want to put him under further trauma. Furthermore, at that time, there was a specific law in India (Sec 377) that categorized people belonging to the LGBTQ community as criminals. This law did not make any sense to me because I felt that there was no need to treat people as criminals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
When I thought about it a little more, I knew that he was a good friend of mine, and there was no reason to spoil our friendship just because he is gay.
To be candid, when I came to know that Moulee belonged to the LGBTQ community, I was a little taken aback – mainly because I did not have acquaintances with people from that community before. But when I thought about it a little more, I knew that he was a good friend of mine, and there was no reason to spoil our friendship just because he is gay. Instead of abandoning the friendship, I realized that by supporting him through adversity, I could become an ally for him – and the LGBTQ community in general.
Collaborating for Diversity and Inclusion in Organizations
My friendship with Moulee led me to become a more active ally for the LGBTQ community. In Feb 2019, Symantec was one of the main sponsors of an Inclusion CoLab Event I attended that took place in Mumbai to celebrate diversity and inclusion. The Inclusion CoLab was a workshop aimed at building understanding and collaboration for organizations, activist groups, professionals, and advocates in the Mumbai metropolitan area.
The event was organized by Working with Pride, an organization that helps corporations in India to be LGBTQ and ally friendly, covering all dimensions of diversity. The event was only three hours long, but it was packed full of fun and frolic. Most importantly, though, the series of panel discussions I saw provided me with an illuminating experience about how to best support the LGBTQ community.
The Inclusion CoLab workshop provided me with massive insight on how many companies take initiatives to be LGBTQ-friendly. For example, there was a company that changed its HR policy to include all the same benefits for same-sex couples as they did for heterosexual couples. There were also many organizations that provided training for its employees on best practices to be welcoming to employees who belong to the LGBTQ community.
I personally feel that all organizations must be LGBTQ friendly, and that they must devise policies that ensure that people in the LGBTQ community feel safe and comfortable at work.
I personally feel that all organizations must be LGBTQ friendly, and that they must devise policies that ensure that people in the LGBTQ community feel safe and comfortable at work. When we implement a meaningful LGBTQ-friendly policy and make it public, it will enable positive change in thinking amongst other employees.
At Symantec in India, we have tried many different approaches to inform our employees about the LGBTQ community, but we have not been as successful as we would like. There is still a long way to go. The good news is that there is a lot of information and knowledge we can borrow from what other companies have implemented successfully. When we make it an ongoing priority, we will start to see the positive changes we know we need.
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