TCS, Infy tweak privacy norms to recognise ‘third gender’

  • Himani Chandna, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 11, 2016 12:02 IST
IBM is one of the earliest companies to acknowledge and uphold gay rights. (REUTERS)

If you are planning to do a job in some IT firm, you may not be asked to reveal your gender details.

‘Gender information is your private information, don’t share with us’ : This is the new rule at many Information Technology (IT) companies across India. In a bid to increase diverse work force, which also includes transgender employees, companies like HCL, Dell, IBM, Infosys among others have dropped column to seek gender information, which asks one to choose from the three options : Male, Female or Others, during induction and other hiring processes. While many FMCG and retail groups such as Godrej and RPG are actively introducing new privacy and conduct policies related lesbian and gay employees, IT companies are moving ahead with stronger policies for transgender employees as well. “We believe in equal opportunity at work place. Hence, asking gender is not an information of our use,” said spokesman at IT giant, Tata Consultancy Services(TCS).

Dilpreet Singh, Vice President, HR, IBM India and South Asia said, “During the recruitment stage, we do not have a separate indication as ‘other/Transgender’ under gender in our hiring application form.” In 1984, IBM became one of the first companies to sensitise its employees towards non-discrimination based on sexual orientation. Thirteen years later, IBM extended domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees and in 2001, IBM became the first Fortune 500 company to create a sales team specifically for LGBT customers.

Apart from drafting set of policies, the companies also ensure that employees have a safe and harassment-free work place, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. “We do believe that companies in India should consider inclusion as a focus area for talent engagement,” said Richard Lobo, senior vice president and head of human resources, Infosys Ltd. “To further our focus on providing a safe and harassment-free workplace, all employees are provided routes through which their grievances can be addressed in a safe and confidential manner.”

While many companies including Amazon, Flipkart, Dabur, Airtel, Godrej and Videocon didnot respond to the mail sent by HT to understand their initiatives for transgender workforce, companies including Citibank India, Google, Accenture India, RPG group and General Electric, among others, have well-defined human resource policies that aim to protect the rights of this group. A senior Accenture executive said that “even a simple comment causing embarrassment to an LGBT employee is treated as an offence.”

“Corporate India’s mindset is changing rapidly and all companies are doing their bit to bring in healthy work culture for gay and lesbian employees,” said spokesman at The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a professional human resources membership association devoted to human resource management. “ IT companies, across globe, have stopped taking information on gender and now consider this as once private detail.”

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