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Author
Lisa Pradhan
Lisa Pradhan
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Here comes the time of the year when social feeds are flooded with rainbow colors. And a time for organizations to introspect on what it truly means to be inclusive and diverse. Do they have a workplace that welcomes and supports people of all communities, cultures, religions, ethnicities, and sexualities? Or are they just scratching the surface?

Although companies around the world are gradually becoming more inclusive, there is still a significant gap between corporate attempts at inclusivity and the results. A McKinsey study last year revealed employees from the LGBTQ+ community faced far more microaggressions in the workplace than straight employees. The report says that this may result in negative effects on their career progression, with missed opportunities.

Gender neutral workplace – bar graph depicting microaggressions

Source: McKinsey

 

Why embrace gender neutrality at workplace?

A gender-neutral workplace not only attracts, but also retains the best talents

The LGBTQ workforce is now younger and more demanding about workplace inclusion. This population is hugely diverse, with more employees identifying as LGBTQ+, and wants a workplace to match their expectations. This means that a gender-neutral workplace, or a workplace that allows for a more inclusive range of gender expression, not only attracts a wider variety of talent and skillsets, but also brings in new perspectives on the current way of work.

Apart from making the company more adaptable to changing trends, an inclusive environment means better branding and reputation. Policies that promote acceptance and make employees feel secure at work help retain top talent longer.

A gender-neutral workplace ensures better business

There are ripples beyond internal policies as well. The LGBTQ+ consumer segment is significant – the buying power of the global LGBTQ+ population is approximately USD 3.6 trillion. With a reputation for inclusive policies, organizations can attract a more diverse clientele. Around 71% of LGBTQ+ respondents and 82% of allies across Harvard Business Review’s multimarket sample have said that they are more likely to opt for a company that supports LGBTQ+ equality.

Percentage stats of diverse teams’ structure

Source: Cloverpop

 

A gender-neutral workplace is CARING

A CARING workplace is a happy workplace. According to a BCG report last year, around 40% of LGBTQ+ employees are still closeted at work, and almost double this population has faced negative interactions related to their gender identity. In a gender-neutral work environment, employees are encouraged to be empathetic and responsible towards everyone’s needs and be open to diverse personalities and opinions, thus creating a truly inclusive work culture.

Building a gender neutral workplace_LGBTQ+ allies

 

What it means to be an LGBTQ+ ally?

An LGBTQ+ ally can simply be a person who supports and accepts a person from the LGBTQ+ community. But going deeper, an ally can advocate for equal rights and integrity of the community.

At the workplace, employees can be LGBTQ+ allies by:

  • connecting with and affirming LGBTQ+ co-workers.
  • being thoughtful and respectable while addressing all co-workers.
  • educating themselves on LGBTQ+ issues.
  • uncovering and dismantling their own biases.
  • taking a stand against anti-LGBTQ+ discussions at the workplace.

 

Creating a gender-neutral environment at the workplace: where to start?

Setting the tone right in day-to-day conversations

As more and more millennials describe themselves beyond the confines of traditional gender labels, organizations must use less gendered language in their day-to-day operations. Use of gender-neutral pronouns at the workplace such as "they/them” (recognized as a singular pronoun by major dictionaries and the Associated Press stylebook) and gender-neutral titles such as “Mx.” (in place of Mrs. and Mr.), can set the bar for an inclusive tone.

Also, avoiding gendered language during meetings, events, and conferences can help extend this further. For example, saying “person with glasses sitting in the third row” instead of saying “lady sitting in the third row.”

Normalizing the work environment

An inclusive workplace helps people bring their "complete self” to work and give in their best to whatever they do, without feeling distracted or stressed.

By 2018, around 85% of Fortune 500 companies had non-discrimination policies in place that included gender identity.

This makes it all the more important for organizations around the globe to ensure a healthy work environment for all employees, and not stereotype. Inclusive work policies allow all employees to be comfortable in the workplace and help shape the company’s culture.

Inculcating a zero-tolerance harassment policy

Apart from discrimination, LGBTQ+ employees face alarming levels of sexual harassment and abuse at the workplace.

Around one in five trans workers feel unsafe at work.

These experiences can negatively impact a person’s mental health, spreading into their personal life. To ensure a safe and comfortable workplace for all, businesses should adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy for discrimination and harassment.

Encouraging discussions on diversity

Discussions, open forums, training, social media posts, and internal communications about diversity can lead to a more open mindset among employees. Senior management can act as role models, setting a good tone for all employees. A global survey of more than 2,000 employees across different organizations reveals that:

LGBTQ+ employees are 1.6 times more likely to feel included if leaders place diversity and inclusion on their strategic agenda.

Creating all-gender inclusive spaces

An inclusive culture is reinforced all the more by creating all-gender spaces around the workplace. Especially restrooms. Gender-neutral restrooms can signify that an organization is aligned with a socially inclusive culture. Apart from restrooms, other facilities in the premises such as gyms, cafeterias, libraries, and entertainment zones must be accessible to all.

Sign for gender neutral restrooms

All-gender restroom sign

 

How Nagarro is doing its part?

As a global organization, Nagarro truly believes in an all-inclusive and diverse culture. This year Nagarro has come up with several activities internally as well as on its social media channels, to mark Pride month. One such initiative is the internal Yammer post where employees can participate to show their support for the community. Check out some of the interesting and creative responses below:

How Nagarro is building a gender neutral workplace


Nagarro has its own rainbow avatar and has put together a video to mark the month. Check it out:


Manas Fuloria, Custodian of Entrepreneurship in the Organization at Nagarro,  says, “Growing up, we heard this phrase a lot “unity in diversity”. It was much used by independent India’s early leaders as they set about stitching together a vast, diverse new country. This simple mantra has remained with me, like a guiding light. At Nagarro, we celebrate diversity, and especially today during Pride, we would like to congratulate our LGBTQ+ colleagues for being an integral part of Nagarro’s wonderful mosaic and incredible journey. Nagarro commits to continually challenging itself to be ever more inclusive and ever more diverse.”