The Myriad Hues of Pride
Authored by Jaya Singh Panda, Chief Diversity Officer, Tata Steel
LGBTQIA+ Pride Month is celebrated in June in the United States and across the world. The festivities include colourful parades, floats, celebrities, and workshops. Despite all the colour and mirth, Pride Month commemorates years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice, under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person, intersex, asexual and queer community. It also showcases the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ individuals. But why is Pride Month celebrated in June?
The organised pursuit of LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States reaches back to at least 1924 and the founding of the Society of Human Rights in Chicago by Henry Gerber. But the event that catalysed the LGBTQIA+ rights movement came in June 1969 in New York City’s Greenwich Village, at the Stonewall Inn. In the early hours of June 28, police raided this popular gathering place for young members of the LGBTQIA+ community—arresting the employees for selling liquor without a license, roughing up many of the patrons, and clearing the bar. Outside, the crowd that watched the bar’s patrons being herded into police vans became violent, forcing the police to barricade themselves in the bar to await backup. Before long, some 400 people were rioting. Although police reinforcements dispersed the crowd, riots waxed and waned outside the bar for the next five days and these Stonewall riots (also called the Stonewall uprising) provided the spark that ignited the LGBTQIA+ rights movement in the United States.
IN CONTEMPORARY HISTORY
In time, the day expanded to become a month-long event. It was officially recognised by the U.S. government when President Bill Clinton declared June 1999 “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” President Barack Obama proclaimed June to be “LGBT Pride Month,” and President Joe Biden further expanded the observance to “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender person, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month.” Elsewhere in the world, Pride is celebrated at different times of the year, although many cities observe it in June.
THE INDIAN PERSPECTIVE
On September 06, 2018, India embraced the colours of the rainbow, after the Supreme Court issued its verdict and ruled that Section 377 of the IPC is unconstitutional.
According to Randstad India's Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Study, 60 percent of MNC leaders have LGBTQIA+ inclusion goals. However, close to 70 percent of the respondents believed that there has been no significant effort in the direction of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender person, queer (or sometimes questioning), and others (LGBTQIA+) inclusion.
THE TATA STEEL STORY
For all of us here, at Tata Steel, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is not a choice but a way of life. Building an equitable culture and a diverse leadership team is a responsibility we take seriously.
The world today is consciously moving away from age-old societal norms, practices of exclusion, and discrimination that is deep-rooted in the social fabric of many countries. Historically marginalised communities have either not been able to, or have faced innumerable hurdles, to merely enter the mainstream.
We, as an organisation, keep people and community at the center and this is intrinsic to our business philosophy and has been part of our legacy since inception, as envisioned by our founder, Jamsetji Tata.
Over the past few years, several HRM policies (under MOSAIC) like work from home, satellite office, newborn parent leave, adoption leave, childcare leave, adoption assistance, etc. have been introduced to promote gender diversity, differently-abled persons, and others.
LGBTQIA+ resource group, namely, WINGS, has been launched to promote allyship and LGBTQIA+ community empowerment. Tata Steel also extends its Company policies and benefits, for same-sex partners. Moreover, our POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy emphasises that all stakeholders, irrespective of their gender, have the right to be treated with dignity.
As a landmark initiative, on December 02, 2021, Tata Steel onboarded 14 transgender persons as Heavy Earth Moving Machinery (HEMM) Operators at West Bokaro Division, becoming the first Indian company to open core mining operations to the transgender community. Since then, we have recruited 79 transgender persons in Tata Steel Kalinganagar Division, Steel Division Jamshedpur Works, HMC, Tubes, and West Bokaro Division combined. We also currently are in the process of recruiting 30 transgender persons for the Shared Services Division.
This Pride Month, we have also launched the Equal Opportunity and Anti-Discrimination Policy in Tata Steel and to protect and create listening posts for diverse work groups, Tata Steel has appointed Complaint Officers, with respect to The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 and HIV/AIDs Act 2017 and Liaison Officers, with respect to The Rights of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2016.
For June 2022, we plan to carry forward the ‘Kholo Mann Ke Dwaar’ campaign.
The objective this year is to promote awareness and sensitisation about the deployment of transgender persons in Tata Steel. The theme of the campaign is ‘Acceptance’ and the four pillars that are being focused on are –
“Solidarity, Validation, Dignity and Empowerment”.