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Corporations meet to tackle effects of India’s gay sex ban on employees

IBM intends to host talks with other international corporations such as Google, Dell, and Citigroup in coming months in order to discuss strategies to protect their LGBT employees in India, following the country’s recent re-criminalization of gay sex.

On December 11, 2013, India reinstated section 377, a ban on homosexual sex that was previously overturned in 2009. Conviction under the internationally condemned law can result in a ten-year imprisonment for offenders.

Although many multinational companies have attempted to provide non-discriminatory policies for the LGBT community, homophobia remains rife in the Indian workplace.

IBM’s Vice President, Claudia Brind-Woody, told HR Magazine that multinational companies have a moral obligation to protect their employees in countries where their rights are under threat.

“Stonewall and other NGOs [non-governmental organizations] can only do so much. It’s the power of our corporate brands, when we put them together and go into a country that's hard [on LGBT employees], which allows us…to discuss why fundamental human rights are important, not only from a social justice perspective, but just from a business perspective. It’s good for business,” she said.

IBM offers online courses that help train straight allies to promote workplace equality, teaching them how to support LGBT colleagues and sharing the best practices to make them feel welcome in the company.

IBM, which currently employs 116,000 people in India alone, has scored one hundred percent on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index every year since it began in 2002.

On January 16, Stonewall awarded the company Stonewall’s 2014 Global Employer of the Year award for equality in the workplace.

Following India’s reintroduction of section 377, First Post published an article in which they spoke with multinational companies based in India to find out if the law would change their workplace policies.

An IBM spokesperson told First Post that they intended to remain committed to “promoting a culture of inclusion for all, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation.”

At the time, Google claimed it was too early to comment, but that they “are reviewing the situation and will want to understand the full legal implication of the ruling.”

Despite their past indecision, they are amongst other corporate giants intending on attending IBM’s meetings.

429Magazine

Written By:
CatherineMorpeth
CatherineMorpeth
Fri, Jan 17, 2014
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