In the 3rd Diversity Dialogues special episode of Colourful Kamanabillu, RJ Shilok interviews Madhumitha Venkataraman about the complications that swirl around transgender hiring at Indian workplaces. Madhumitha has worked as an HR professional for a decade now and is a diversity and inclusion evangelist working across spaces of gender, disability, LGBTQIA+ and generational diversity. She currently leads the diversity and inclusion office for a large MNC and has been instrumental in conceptualising and executing India’s first accessible pride.
Madhumitha She started working on the transgender issue when she understood that transgender persons have been severely discriminated against at different workplaces, including in the corporate sector, and even by their families. That is what inspired her to think about Diversity Dialogues.
The corporate sector has become relatively more inclusive of LGBTQIA+ employees, but employing a person from the community remains tricky still. The organisations need to be very sensitive to these employees’ specific needs and their policies must allow them to be themselves without being stigmatised. “The sensitisation levels are not yet there, not completely,” says Madhumita. People still harbour beliefs that transgender people are all ‘hijras’ and that all they do is beg or become prostitutes to support their lives. This mindset needs to be changed.
According to Madhumitha, transgender persons who have received a good education find an easy welcome in the corporate sector. The recruiters, however, must be careful while interacting with these employees; they must, for e.g., enquire after their preferred name, gender, and pronouns, and address them accordingly. They must also understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
In this discussion, Madhumitha shares many cases of discrimination against transgender persons. These employees might get hired but their professional growth within an organisation is often hampered by biases against them. Fortunately, there have also been some success stories and Madhumitha is happy to share them as well!
Change has surely begun, but there is a long road ahead still. We must all shoulder the responsibility of building a highly sensitive environment where persons of every gender can find space and opportunities. We must stand up for transgender rights and support the community’s growth.
Written by Poushali Banik.