“Largely, the narrative at formal workplaces is that you’re either the gay guy at work, or you’re somebody at work,” says Ramkrishna Sinha, 31-year-old co-founder of Pride Circle. “We wanted to change this narrative, and say, you can be out at work and also be somebody at work.”
With perspectives and goals such as these, Pride Circle, a two-year-old platform, is organising a job fair exclusively for the LGBTQI+ community on July 12. Called Reimagining Inclusion for Social Equity or RISE, organisers say that it’s the first event of its kind in India, and they are expecting over 300 applicants and 50 companies including those from the IT sector, hospitality, banking, finance expected to be there, along with start-ups, to attend.
Pride Circle, founded by Ram and Srini who are award winning Diversity & Inclusion professionals, was started to bring together people from the communities and executives in the workplaces who want to be allies but do not know how. They have been organising meetups to that effect in several Indian cities including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune, among others.
“After section 377 (that criminalised homosexuality) was read down by the Supreme Court, there were some companies that expressed solidarity, and coloured their logos in rainbow hues. However, not many have inclusive policies such as covering costs for gender affirmation surgeries,” Ram says.
Discrimination is still rampant, especially in formal workplaces – it’s tough to survive if you’re out or you have to keep pretending to be in the closet, he adds. “There have been instances where a trans person has been selected for an interview, but they are simply not able to go in because the security personnel do not allow them.”
To change the narrative, the job fair aims to bring together companies that are willing to stand with the LGBTQI+ community and provide them with livelihoods without discrimination.
Ram explains that the event on July 12 will have three major aspects – a daylong conference, and a job fair and a marketplace for half the day each. All of these will be happening simultaneously at The Lalit Ashok.
The conference will have global and national executives, as well as renowned LGBTQI+ representatives from the community in India such as Akkai Padmashali. They will talk, among other things, about the best inclusion practices which companies in India can adopt. There will also be a leadership lunch, where a select group of 20-25 people from the business world will be able to have a sit down with an executive who is out about their queer identity at their workplace in India.
The job fair meanwhile, will have up to 50 companies coming in and setting up their stalls. Community members will be able to interact with them, and the company and applicant(s) can also make use of an interview zone to take the process forward. Organisers expect 300-400 prospective applicants to attend the event.
The marketplace on the other hand, will see businesses owned by queer persons set up stalls. “The idea behind this is to show that entrepreneurship is a real option for the LGBTQI+ community, and to also showcase them as options for other companies to do business with… diversify their partnerships and vendors,” Ram explains. The marketplace will also be an opportunity for queer-owned businesses to network with each other and team up for potential requirements, he adds.
The organisers say that the buzz around the job fair has been good so far, and there is a lot of excitement in the community. However, in order to be able to participate in this job fair, one has to register and/or send in their resume; walk-ins are not allowed. While the website to register will be up and running by May 15, if you are from the LGBTQI+ community and wish to send your resume, you can do so here.
So far, they have received over 100 resumes, Ram says. It includes people with a variety of skill sets – from those who have been homeschooled to PhD holders.
Pride Circle is going to send a blind resume to participating companies, where a person’s qualifications, skill set, CTC expectation and such will be provided without personal identifiers. If a company likes certain candidates from these, only then will the other personal details be provided. Consideration will be given to things like whether an applicant will be comfortable being out at work as well.
Access the Facebook page of RISE here.
(Main image courtesy: RISE/Pride Circle)