On Thursday, August 8th, Out & Equal held the second-ever Out & Equal LGBTQI+ India Forum in Bangalore, India. Nearly  200 attendees from nearly 90 Indian and multinational companies attended the sold-out event to discuss ways to advance LGBTQI+ workplace inclusion in the country and create cultures of true inclusion and belonging. The Forum was made possible with support from sponsors JPMorgan Chase & Co., IBM, Dell, Bank of America, Intel, Northern Trust, and Uber; as well as our knowledge partners Pride Circle, Interweave, and GiftAbled.

The day opened with a lively and interactive mindfulness exercise, led by Prachi Rastogi, D&I Leader with IBM, to help everyone feel centered and ready to be fully present for the conversations that were to follow.

india forum 2019Participants break the ice through dance during the opening mindfulness exercise.

The exercise preceded an inspirational Keynote Address by Anubhuti Banerjee who spoke openly to the audience about her personal journey as a out and visible trans leader at Tata Steel. We then wrapped up the morning with an opening plenary that focused on the progress that has taken place since last year and the striking down of Section 377, while remaining grounded in the obstacles that still exist and strategizing around next steps.

Anubhuti Banerjee delivers the Keynote Address

After that, the day was split among two tracks: Beginner and Advanced.  The Beginner track featured a panel about intersex inclusion, an interactive workshop with four queer-identifying employees from the LaLiT, and important information on how to be a good LGBTQI+ ally.  The Advanced track consisted of topics such as moving from unconscious bias to conscious inclusion, a discussion with AMCHAM members on workplace inclusion, and a panel on sustainable LGBTQI+ hiring practices, with a focus on trans inclusion.

“The world watched in admiration as the draconian section 377 of India’s penal code was struck down last year and with that, the second most populous country in the world decriminalized LGBTQI+ love. India is now at a crossroads for LGBTQI+ social and economic inclusion. The diversity of businesses and participants in the second annual Out & Equal Forum in Bangalore demonstrate that the path forward to ensure that Indian workplaces can be enriched with top, diverse talent – including the local LGBTQI+ community – will be forged by these private sector and NGO partnerships. We look forward to growing this vital program in 2020.” – Deena Fidas, Managing Director of Global Stakeholder Engagement, Out & Equal.

Participants came together again at the close of the event for an interactive mass participation lesson in sign language, facilitated by Shashwati P of GiftAbled. In an intersectional approach towards belonging, the audience learned key signs to help communicate and be inclusive of the LGBTQI+ deaf and hard of hearing community.

Participants learn sign language during an inclusive and intersectional closing activity.

Out & Equal exists to foster workplaces where all people are equal, belong, and thrive. Through the connections built at this event, it is clear to see that we are strongest when we come together to listen, support, and engage in meaningful dialogue around the current issues that today’s workplaces face. We look forward to taking the lessons learned during this Forum to convert them into a tailored resource that responds to the needs of D&I leaders in India.

Thank you to all who attended and helped make this Forum a great success!