Growing up in a small town in Australia, I would never have imagined that I would end up calling India home, or that I would have an Indian wife. The last 20 years has been a rollercoaster ride, whether it was studying psychology in London, moving to Chennai and starting my own business, or joining Wipro without any clue about IT services. As a blond 5’10 Australian women, I definitely stand out which is funny because I feel so comfortable that I forget that I look different. However, I am quickly brought back to reality when people ask me where is your native or I see a look of panic as I am about to speak. It makes me work hard to build a level of comfort, so everyone can relax and feel at ease.
While my ethnicity is very visible, most people do not realize that I am gay. Following where is your native, I am often asked about my husband, which again leads to awkwardness and me trying to make them not to feel embarrassed that they did not know or they assumed I was straight. While at work, i initially was not out as I was afraid that I would be judged negatively. I wanted to be known for my work and contributions to the organization. Over the last couple of years, however, I realized that I needed to be more visible and help bring about more awareness for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly when someone told me there are no gay people in the organization. I also witnessed some exclusion towards certain types of non-gender conforming employees and people who were not married. It inspired me to want to create that safety net and an invitation for LGBTQ+ employees to tell their stories and bring their full selves to work. My coming out was also made easier when Wipro added LGBTQ+ to its inclusion and diversity charter in 2018, and when leaders started coming out as strong allies in support of the community. Overturning of Section 377 also gave the organization the confidence to drive the LGBTQ+ inclusion agenda with a lot more focus. The law for a long time had interfered with people’s fundamental right for equality and dignity.
Now leading the LGBTQ+ charter for Wipro, it’s been an eye opener for me. Aside from ensuring gender neutral policies, practices and processes, introducing gender inclusive restrooms, and insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery, our immediate focus has been on LGBTQ+ sensitization sessions and building a strong Ally community. Such sessions and changes in our policies has really helped in creating awareness and helping in eradication of unconscious bias. Being accepted for being ourselves by others enables us to do our best work and let go of any façade. The need for togetherness is even more required during Covid times as many of us are working remotely and separated from our larger support systems and work colleagues.
Covid has allowed us to reflect on what is important in our lives, and has also made us appreciate what is truly important. For example, less commute has meant more quality time to spend with our loved ones. Given the new perspectives, I am even more confident about the future as Wipro’s inclusion journey gains momentum.
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