September 16, 2020
Vividh, as the name reflects, is not just a job fair but a celebration and amalgam of the diversity of Indian employees and entrepreneurs. Mumbai’s first job fair for the members of the LGBTQIA community extended to acid attack victims and the disabled as well.
The job fair was held at the Nehru Centre, Worli on Sunday 28th July 2019. It was hosted by ‘6 Degrees’, an LGBTQ+ growth network. Several NGOs also spread the word about the job fair.
Praful Baweja, the co-founder of ‘6 Degrees’, said, “Despite the striking of the provisions of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, there are no platforms for LGBTQI community members to find jobs.”
After the verdict, a lot of companies used the rainbow to show their support. However, there is still a long way to hiring people from all sections of society.
Apart from job seekers, the job fair also saw keen participation from over 15+ recruiters. The job fair saw top recruiters and brands including corporates and media forms.
The key recruiters who led the job fair included Godrej, Ernst and Young, Dr. Reddy’s, IBM and Standard Chartered as well as start-ups. The companies who participated in the job fair, have implemented different policies to make the workplace more inclusive for all the communities.
The policies include:
2. Medical benefits for same-sex couples
3. Stopping the practice of adding titles before a person’s name.
It was taken by companies to create a more inclusive environment where people can work comfortably. The companies clearly want to move towards becoming more accepting.
A representative of Standard Chartered said that the overall response to the job fair has been good. “Many candidates had come from various parts of India, people even came from Andhra. It was heart-warming to see people turn up with such determination and confidence… There have been people with visual impairment, autism, hearing disabilities. It was quite touching for us was to see the kind of optimism the candidates had,” he said.
Sweta, the Recruiting Manager for one of Godrej companies said that the company has attended a diversity fair previously in Bangalore. “Godrej started talking about diversity before it became the ‘it’ word. So, we take immense pride in the fact that we are not followers but leaders when it comes to DNI (Diversity and Inclusion)” she said.
IBM is another recruiter which took part in Vividh diversity job fair 2019. “During the early days of incorporation, almost 70-80 years back, IBM had launched a policy of equal opportunity. So, at that point in time also, IBM did not discriminate based on caste, creed, sex or any such thing,” Mandavi, the talent acquisition partner with IBM said.
“At IBM, we have a dedicated team that keeps everyone aware and educated about diversity and inclusion. There is a zero-tolerance policy for any bullying or harassment…If a job is open for external hiring, it is open to everybody. There is no discrimination.” she added.
Almost 15-18 big companies were present at the fair, while almost 20-25 companies are hiring online. ‘6 Degrees’ is also having conversations with companies to include DNI ( Diversity and Inclusion). Some of them may not have openings immediately but are in the process of transition.
According to Baweja, more than 350 candidates turned up at the job fair. “40 percent of candidates attended our walk-ins were people with disabilities. We also saw a huge footfall of members of the LGBTQI community. It is the exclusivity while assigning jobs at a workplace that might require effort, inclusiveness comes effortlessly” he said.
Moreover, highlighting on his own experience of working in a diverse space, he said that he never had to go out of the way to sensitize his team towards the concept of inclusivity.
He also added that with a variety of perspectives and voices at the table, the work environment is happier and more positive.
Voices of the Candidates at Vividh:
Rajat Kumar, a transman from Mumbai, was looking for an opening in an event management company. He had earlier dropped out of a course at an education institute because of the rigid dress code.
“I am a transman, but my official documents since my birth say I am a woman. After my surgery, I want to be accepted as a transman. Earlier, when I had been for an interview I was rejected when I told the employer that I am a transman,” said Kumar.
Saloni, a differently-abled job seeker said she learned about Vividh from Sarthak, an NGO she is associated with. It was her first experience at a job market and is looking for a job that matches her qualifications. “I have passed 12th standard and I have computer knowledge,” said Saloni. She said she felt welcomed, and the response she received at the job fair was heartening.
Shakti, a transwoman who attended the job fair said, “I had made up my mind that when I start working I will not pretend to be something else. I am out, and proud. My first experience was pretty difficult because it was my pre-transition phase, so people asked many weird questions.”
Unfortunately, in India, many companies still remain biased against recruiting the LGBTQ+ community. While several others have no provisions of employing the disabled. It is hard to find a job for everyone, but even harder for an LGBTQ+ community member.
Thanks to Vividh Diversity Fair which helps people like LGBTQ+, Acid attack victims and the disabled to avail opportunities and become independent and have a respectable job in the society.