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Pride Circle Meetup | Pride Month 2020

Pride Circle meetup goes virtual this time!

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride in March. SAP re-imagined the way we celebrate Pride month by taking things virtual – the new normal, by conducting multiple online sessions, and activities.

One of the prominent events is the Pride Circle Meet. A virtual setup brings a new section of challenges with it; although initially skeptical, our concerns were instantly alleviated upon over 120 participants actively engaging and pouring their hearts during the session. It was an honor to have Sindhu and Shraddha with us, they’ve been extremely supportive and have always had the readiness to accept anything that can make our workplace better.

We had Pallavi Sharma, Koushumi Chakraborti, and Shane Mills who told us their stories, and answered most of the questions that were on our minds. Ram moderated the meeting and brought everything together. He also posed questions on how we can make our workplace better, how we can be inclusive at home, and much more. We got answers that made us open our eyes and ears to what is happening around us and envision how we can together build a better future.

“Ability is not governed by your identity.”

 

– Sindhu Gangadharan
Senior Vice President and Managing Director
SAP Labs India

Sindhu kick-started the Pride Circle meet with a cheerful smile and a warm welcome to the panelists and participants. She spoke about how the LQBTQIA+ has bloomed through the years, right from its inception 50 years ago. She also spoke about scrapping of Article 377, and what Justice Indu Malhotra said, “History owes an apology to the members of this community and their families, for the delay in providing redressal for the ignominy and ostracism that they have suffered through the centuries. The members of this community were compelled to live a life full of fear of reprisal and persecution.”

She stated that SAP has always been keen on creating a workplace where everyone is respected, being who they are. Starting from Global Homosapiens in 2001 to Pride @SAP today, we’ve grown bigger and stronger.

“We can build a better world if we know what it truly looks like.”

 

– Shraddhanjali Rao
Vice President – HR
SAP, India

In her address to the participants, Shraddha pulled together stories of struggles, learning and hope that laid the foundation of SAP’s journey of building an inclusive workplace. Commitment to the purpose, active leadership support has helped us in overcoming resistance and backing all efforts in driving inclusion. To Shraddha, Sameer’s journey of coming out to his manager and team has been one great example, as he has not only been true to himself, but has also used his experiences to support the community at large. She also proudly shared the work done by SAP’s strong network of allies in sensitizing the employees community on Inclusion. Currently, over 150 employees across 8 teams have been sensitized, and these numbers are growing. She also highlighted the different policies we currently have at SAP, such as medical coverage for SameSex partners, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) extended to families, family care leaves, and insurance coverage for gender affirmation surgery. Our allies have also strongly partnered with us in co-creating, collaborating and modifying company policies to ensure it caters to everyone’s needs and allows each employee to bring their best selves to work.

 

“It is important to accept yourself, and feel comfortable in your own shoes.”

 

– Ram Sinha
Co-Founder, Pride Circle

Ram strongly believes in encouraging people to build healthy networks at work as well as outside. He’s currently compiling 101 Coming Out Stories, which I’m sure will be a true sense of inspiration and motivation to many. He also champions the cause of mental health and recommends everyone to cultivate habits that build resilience.

Ram also invited the allies to join the #21DayAllyChallenge that can help us be more inclusive from the comfort of our homes. Ram then went on to moderate the meetup.

“My journey of coming out has been so good that I wish anybody else coming out has an experience similar to mine.”

 

Pallavi Sharma
Director L&D, HR
Epsillon

Pallavi gave an insight into her upbringing by sharing how she grew up in a regular middle- class Punjabi family and had a happy childhood. After navigating through unsuccessful heterosexual relationships, she eventually met her current partner. Although nervous and uncertain in the beginning, Pallavi realized how her partner brought her incomparable happiness with time. Baring her heart to her parents in an e-mail, she was on tenterhooks to learn what they had to say. A visibly emotional Pallavi shared the message a doting father wrote to his loving daughter, “Parents don’t love their children based on their gender, and so is the same with life partners”. With a strong support network, Pallavi has now taken up the challenge of breaking societal stereotypes and is working on extending legal benefits that are currently reserved for a spousal relation in India, to SameSex partners.

” No matter what a child’s gender or biological features are, they deserve parents.”

 

Koushumi Chakraborti
Senior Lead – Compensation and Benefits
Infosys BPM Limited

Koushumi is a single mother by adoption. She is a loving mother of an intersex child. She mentioned how she did not set out to adopt someone from the community, but saw no reason not to. Although a vociferous advocate of LGBTQIA+ rights, Koushumi’s motivation was never personal. Since becoming a mother, she has actively invested efforts in helping families acknowledge and accept intersex children. Koushumi also emphasized on the role of an Ally. Rather than playing a passive role, she believes an ally should be an advocate and call out any bias that they come across.

“Let’s be kind, loving and stand up for each other. Allies are the game changers who can change the society.”

 

Shane Mills
Senior Analyst, APJC Pride Co Lead
Dell Technologies

Shane started by sharing an attitude that perplexed her; she pointed out how she’s born in a country whose people worship transgender deities, yet shut the doors when they come across real transgender people. Since childhood, Shane knew that she was different. She preferred dancing to Madhuri Dixit’s ek do teen over Sachin Tendulkar’s straight drive. When she disclosed her gender identity to her family, she wasn’t accepted wholeheartedly. Determined to live her truth, she respectfully chose her identity over family. However, even after moving away from her family, she honored her mother, a woman who single handedly raised her, by refusing to do stereotypical or odd jobs. Travelling across the globe, Shane’s quest for an ideal job culminated at Dell. She mentioned how Dell’s relaxed dress code made her feel comfortable. She acknowledged that this may not be a primary consideration for many people, but shone light on how even the slightest consideration can have a huge impact. Shane concluded by giving an insight on how her colleagues at Dell have played a significant role in her journey.

Many of us didn’t even realize that time was ticking and that the event had to come to an end. Thanks to the lovely speakers who were very candid in their talks and ensured we stayed connected throughout the event.

Pallavi’s thought on leadership making a big difference resonated with all the SAP employees as they saw Sindhu & Shraddha continuously engaged in the conversation.

Looking forward to many more awe-inspiring meets that make us reflect on who we are and make us better humans. Let’s start at our homes, support each other, spread love all around, and make the world a better place to live.

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