Serein

LGBTQ – Victims of Prejudice

Anu Dasgupta

- November 17, 2017

This was a celebratory week here in Australia. The results of the marriage equality poll came through and votes in favour of legalising same sex marriage won by a landslide. It is odd that this country was the first to grant women the right to vote but the last of the English speaking countries to consider legalising same sex marriage when homosexuality is not a crime.  The process of legislating begins now. Fingers crossed it will happen before the year closes.

Australia proudly hosts the LGBTQ Mardi Gras every year and believes there is nothing unnatural about being LGBTQ. It is therefore unacceptable that the laws of this country have not changed thus far to reflect the progressive sentiments of the population at large. The culprit for this delay is, you guessed it- politics! There are some highly conservative politicians who currently hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives. They demonstrate what I call backward views. They say their religion does not support same sex people marrying.  I say they use religion as a cover for their prejudice, because it’s socially undesirable to discriminate. There are equal number of priests, imams, rabbis etc. who are happy and willing to conduct same sex marriages ceremonies in their places of worship. How does their religion differentiate from those of the politicians?   Bringing religion into politics stops a country from progressing. History and the current global political environment are a clear proof of this. Is it any wonder that atheism and agnosticism are now the fastest growing belief systems amongst the socially progressive population? In a true secular democracy, it’s equal rights for all. The majority do NOT make rules for the minority. The LGBTQ are a minority group and are not treated with respect they deserve.

When homosexual couples in long term relationships are hospitalised as they progress into old age, the other same sex partner is not recognised to be next of kin. I have a huge issue with this. Someone who has loved you and lived with you and cared for you all your life is not allowed to make decisions about you, (when you are incapable of doing so) only because they are not considered to be in a legal relationship. But then, two unmarried heterosexual people living together are granted the legal decision making rights that a legally married husband and wife are given. Unacceptable in a country that calls itself a democracy.   

I am however cognisant of the fact that LGBTQ people in many countries have it even tougher than in Australia.  How oppressed they must feel to know that their sexual preference is considered a crime, as if they have any choice in this matter! As humans we have no control over our sexuality.  Homosexuality is a perfectly normal occurrence. In every society at least 10% of the population have a homosexual or bisexual orientation. Homosexuality exists even within the animal kingdom, lest anyone thinks humans are brainwashed to be a homosexual.  It is not a psychological condition and no, paedophiles are not all gay. There are many gay myths that people believe from being ill informed.  Societal pressures to be heterosexual in these countries have far reaching negative consequences. I personally know a childhood friend of mine who was married off to this man from Mumbai who could not tell his parents, he was gay. What happened to my friend after she found this out during her honeymoon is a tragedy I won’t depress you with, but it’s worth noting that the only reason the husband couldn’t be honest about his sexuality was societal intolerance. I later learnt that his ‘highly educated’ parents were performing all sorts of religious rituals to get rid of the ‘demon’ that had plagued him. What good is education or religion if it closes your mind from accepting other possibilities?

Interestingly, countries where LGBTQ orientations are not welcomed have greater internet searches for gay pornography.  The proof for this can be found in Seth Stephens-Davidowitz recently released best seller- EVERYBODY LIES which is based on big data obtained from the world’s online search activities. Yes, we lie all the time and what we say even in surveys is not the whole truth. Our online searches show that the way we express and reveal our thoughts and opinions are quite often contradictory to what we really think due to social pressures.

Incidence and transmission of HIV is greater in societies that do not welcome LGBTQ orientations because no one talks to this community about safe sex. Not to mention the societal havoc of sexual crimes and poor mental health caused by social conditioning like in the case of my friend.

Scientific American magazine once published an article in 2012 which showed analysis of implicit bias and explicit sexual orientation statements to explain the underpinnings of homophobia and hate crimes. The research, published in the issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals the nuances of prejudices like homophobia, which can ultimately have dire consequences. [The 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviours]. The research went on to say that sometimes LGBTQ threatens people because they are fearing their own impulses to be homosexual and protesting it is their way of stopping their own feelings from surfacing.

There is also quite a bit of accepted literature and debate now that links intolerance and the resulting lack of empathy and generosity in adults to authoritarian parenting where differing and diverse perspectives on many topics are not tolerated in the family.  A child growing up in such an environment tends to form a polarised view of the world where things are easily judged as right or wrong, good, or bad with no dialogue to appreciate what might exist in between. The ability to harness differing perspectives is the key to sense-making and empowering others.  I have often wondered if there is credible evidence linking strict or orthodox beliefs to authoritarian parenting?

From a workforce perspective, I recently learnt from a colleague at London Business School (LBS) that 7.3% of millennials entering the workforce identify within the LGBTQ spectrum. When companies consider how to attract and retain the best talent, it is important to consider not only how to create an inclusive culture but also – how to foster a culture that is VISIBLY inclusive for prospective LGBTQ employees, to encourage them to feel safe at work.

LBS also conducted some research looking at company diversity statements and the approach taken in them when addressing LGBTQ prospective employees. Interestingly, the results showed that highlighting the different and unique contributions LGBTQ members can make within a diversity statement has many practical benefits for employers. Some advantages include: improving prospective employees’ perception of trust, comfort, belonging and ability to express their sexual orientation at work.  An organisation that values and creates psychological safety for its people is the one that will outlast and outperform its competition.  A country that values and creates psychological safety for all its people could well be called the happiest place on earth.

About the Author

Anu DasGupta is the Director of People & Culture at AMP Australia.  While AMP Australia openly supports same sex marriage and is proud of their inclusive culture, the views and opinions expressed in this article are her own.

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Abhishek is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in finance and corporate governance. With over 15 years of expertise as a qualified Company Secretary, he has made significant contributions to the finance departments of companies within the real estate and startup sectors.
 
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Rhea holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai where she majored in advertising.

Dr. Ishani Roy

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Ishani founded Serein to provide a data and research-based approach to solving DEI challenges at the workplace. She advises company leaders, startup founders, and venture capital firms on industry best practices to increase diversity and design a DEI roadmap.

Ishani is a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2023 for the global impact of her work in the DEI space.

Before founding Serein, Ishani was a scientist at GE Research working in the Aerospace Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University on developing mathematical models to solve Astrophysics problems. She did her Post-doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and St. Thomas Hospital in Biomathematics.

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Chryslynn leads the product development of Serein’s DEI SaaS tool. She designs learning content and strategic insights for companies to measure their DEI growth, and achieve bias-free recruitment and psychological safety.

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Before Serein, she was a Gandhi Fellow working in rural Rajasthan to address educational leadership and gender equity in government schools. She graduated from Azim Premji University in Bangalore with a Master’s in Education where she specialised in gender and sexuality education.

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Head of PoSH: India, Global

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Bianca designs gamified learning modules for a unique and impactful learner experience on topics like gender inclusion, PwD inclusion, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and regional inclusion among others. 

Before Serein, Bianca worked in hospitality for 5 years with Emirates Airlines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics from SOAS University of London.

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She works closely with Serein’s 500+ long-term partners to ensure they are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law. Aparna is a workshop facilitator on topics like the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Aparna Pandurangan holds a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. 

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She has 150+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace. Her legal research at Serein includes policy analysis, human rights, women’s rights, and document drafting.

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Ruchika is a published author with books like ‘Concubinage, Race and Law in Early Colonial Bengal: Bequeathing Intimacy, Servicing the Empire’ published by Routledge, Taylor, and Francis publications. She has been teaching History at the University of Delhi for over a decade. She has a Ph.D. in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Arathi Kannan

Head of DEI: India, Global

Arathi leads the design and execution of DEI measurement tools for global partners. These include Serein’s Diversity Index, the scope of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotions, and the scope of unconscious bias in external messaging. 

She has also designed a standardized tool to review company policies and products through an inclusion lens. Arathi leads workshops on inclusion, unconscious bias, domestic violence, mental health, and well-being. 

Arathi is a published researcher with Master’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Criminology from Bond University, Australia. Her experience includes working with people from different backgrounds, including refugee groups.

Thejaswini CA

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Thejaswini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from Field Marshal KM Cariappa College, Kodagu.

Bhavini Pant

Safety and PoSH expert

Bhavini serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in industries like education, healthcare, IT, Pharma, and more. She has 70+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace and supporting partner organizations on the legal procedure and best practices for workplace safety.

Before Serein, Bhavini worked as an archivist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and as an editorial assistant for IIT Bombay’s PR and Alumni Associations department.

She has a Master’s degree in Education from Azim Premji University where she worked extensively with the management on anti-sexual harassment legal implementation. Her work involved the interpretation of the law in a university as a workplace and an educational institution for adults. 

Siri Prasad

Safety and PoSH Expert

Siri Prasad is a Safety and PoSH Expert at Serein and serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients. Her work is not limited to, but includes advising in legal procedures, best practices for safe work cultures, and reviewing of PoSH policies and labor law compliance.

Siri is a Gold Medallist and holds a BBA, LLB (Hons.) from Christ University and a Masters in Science (International Employment Relations) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she also served as the EDI Officer.

Rishab Prasad

DEI Specialist

Rishab is passionate about creating long-term partnerships with Serein’s customers. He is responsible for marketing, operations, customer onboarding, contract writing, and relationship building. Rishab uses his directing and filmmaking skills to design engaging content for Serein’s social media platforms.

Rishab holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from CHRIST University, Bangalore. He has directed more than nine short films on topics like stigmas of menstruation, widowhood, and adoption.

Kirtika N

Safety and PoSH expert

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Kirtika serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in fintech, healthcare, business management, gaming, and more. She has 50+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations at the workplace and supporting partner organisations on legal procedure and best practices.

She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Montfort College, Bengaluru, and has experience working as a trainee counselor.

Sharanya Venkataraghavan

Safety and PoSH expert

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She has been involved in the review of PoSH policies, labour law compliances, and research regarding the risk of secondary victimisation of complainants under the PoSH Act.

Sharanya graduated with BBA, LLB (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She has experience in PoSH and employment law with notable law firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., J. Sagar and Associates, among others.

Nandini Abraham

Statistical Analyst

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Nandini is passionate about creating engaging and impactful reports, toolkits, and playbooks for Serein’s customers.

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Sri Padmavathi C specialises in providing accounting consulting services to companies. She helps in assisting & maintaining Serein’s Books of Accounts, GST, TDS, PT filing, financial statements preparation & audit review.
 
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Anisha Debnath

PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator

As a PoSH and DEI Workshops Facilitator, Anisha is primarily responsible for conducting sessions and facilitating conversations that enable building of safe and inclusive workplaces for all. Anisha also undertakes in-depth research into various Diversity, Equity and Inclusion issues that plague our work cultures today. All of this research goes into designing bespoke sessions and curating interactive learning experiences for several of Serein’s partners. 

Anisha has a background in History, especially in the history of gender and early feminism in colonial South Asia. 

Anisha has a Bachelor’s degree in History (Hons.) from Gargi College, University of Delhi. She has also studied for an MPhil in World History from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Aseem Deuskar

Inclusive Workspace Architect

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Aseem is an Inclusive Workspace Architect dedicated to reshaping workplace diversity and accessibility. He is skilled in conducting comprehensive accessibility audits and implementing inclusive design solutions.


Aseem is passionate about creating environments that foster equal opportunities

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

 

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