SAP Labs India has always been a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion. However, when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion in India, there was still a bit of reluctance up till September 6th, 2018. This was because homosexuality was not legally accepted till then. Repeal of Section 377 by the honorable Supreme Court of India was almost like a green signal to all corporates to revisit their D&I agenda and resume the LGBTQ inclusion agenda in full throttle.
Personally, my first interface with the queer community happened when my colleague, Sameer Ranjan Kumar came out to me. Before this, my entire knowledge and awareness about this community was through movies or books which quite often do not paint the real picture. But now I had this team mate of mine with whom I had worked for so many years and his lived reality is so different. I was so overwhelmed by the fact that Sameer has placed so much trust on me. I, being his manager, immediately got into the mind frame of what should I do to support him in this journey. That was when I realized that inclusion is not about treating someone differently, rather it’s about treating everyone with the same respect and accepting their true authentic self. Since I was the first person he came out to, it was extremely important to value that trust and ensure that he feels safe. I assured him that this secret stays between both of us. And that’s exactly how it was till Sameer decided to come out to everyone(Sameer’s coming out story : https://blogs.sap.com/2019/02/13/love-knows-no-gender/?preview_id=780971).
I am extremely proud of Sameer and happy that he is leading the Pride@SAP India chapter. Quite often I am asked, “What differently you did to include Sameer?’ and my answer is “Inclusion is about treating everyone in the same way, irrespective of their gender, sexual orientation, religion or any other aspect. It’s not about preferential or special treatment”. SAP has absolute zero tolerance for any kind of discrimination, which includes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or gender expression. I would to urge all the managers and leaders to be vocal about diversity and inclusion and about SAP’s non-discrimination policy so that closeted queer folks of your team feel safe and they develop trust on you. Manager’s support plays a very pivotal role as it fosters the sense of trust among queer employees who are closeted and are struggling with their identity.