Imprints from Formative Years:
Initially I never knew the concept of Diversity & Inclusion. I still remember I was working as a Senior Consultant for a recruitment firm & was working on a client Mandate; they were looking forward to hire a Vice President – Diversity & Inclusion candidate. This story heads back in 2015. I was very fascinated with this never heard role & did my research. I found this profile very intriguing and chose to be connected to this role in whatever capacity I can. Being brought-up by a single mother & also being a feminist, I understood the important of supporting women at work-place along with other underrepresented communities. I wanted to be the Voice for them because I too belong to a community which is marginalized in a lot of ways not only in India but in the world. I can never forget the experience my mentor Mr. Ram & my ex-colleague Vidisha shah gave me; they made me feel comfortable about who I am. Their support & my passion to make the world a better place made me stand where I am today.
Aspiring a Society Free of Labels:
When I have to go back & trace my breakthrough in my journey, it was definitely the word “SELF ACCEPTANCE” piece, others just fall in place naturally if it has too. We need to be comfortable in our own skin no matter how many pebbles, rocks or mountains come your way. The significant barriers that I see most of the LGBTQ+ Community face even today at work or in general are strange looks, weird smiles, jokes & to add on in India, we lack legal marital status. To deal with these issues, Education system should teach kids from the childhood the difference between Sex, Gender & Sexuality which are three separate things and have nothing to do with the heteronormative societal concept.
Evolution of Diversity and Inclusion:
Diversity, Inclusion & Belongingness has seen its own struggle in India in terms of acceptance, evolving came into existence much later. Of course, it has been a long, tiresome journey in India for the Diversity & Inclusion practitioners. During the initial phase “GENDER” was only considered to be a part of Diversity Agenda for most of the companies, there were organizations that acknowledged other forms of diversity but I would say the focus started around 5 years ago through Data tracking system. When it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion most of the companies became more and more supportive post the judgement of decriminalization of section 377 of Indian Penal code on 6 September, 2018 on Homosexuality. Honestly a lot has to be done in this space, as sky is the limit and most of the companies have not even started their journey in Diversity & Inclusion. It is imperative for those organizations to prove their support on Inclusion & turn their words into actions when they venture out & brand themselves as “Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.”
Mental Health Matters:
In my opinion we as a society are yet to accept there is something known as “Mental Health”, western world is more progressive if compared to our culture. Many of us are so cautious about physical well-being which is good but a stable mind is equally important, isn’t it? I was also diagnosed with severe level of Anxiety, Depression & Stress Level during June 2020 & I’m still on medications. For me acceptance did not come so easy, I took time which resulted in a more stressful mind. For the first initial 2 months of my medication & therapy, I wasn’t comfortable discussing about my condition but later I realized it is an important subject & need of the hour to speak about it, that taking help from a psychiatrist is all ok, it is normal. People should understand the symptoms of mental sickness and help people to seek help. I’m very passionate about writing articles on my journey, being a host at several events, be a part of panel discussion at various forums, if it may help someone to identify what I went through, they might also be going through but unfortunately not realising it enough or being ignorant about their mental health. My Clinical Psychologist “Kiran Makhijani” was & still is my constant support system & together we conduct various sessions not only around mental health but also with the family members or guardians of the person suffering from mental health, educating & explaining them how to deal with their Vulnerability throughout their journey until they’re off medications & therapy.
Sources of Powerful Lessons:
I have always looked upto Ratan Tata as my role model and would love to see him once in my life, because I see compassion in his eyes which is something that I admire the most & consider one of my strengths as a D&I Consultant.
My words of wisdom for others would be “follow your heart, the rest will follow you,” I keep saying this because I always envisioned myself to be working in the Diversity & Inclusion space, be a leader & get acknowledged not only in India but in the world for my work & credibility. By God’s grace I’m glad I’m here sharing my story with your team. My mentor Mr. Ram did play a very pivotal role in crafting my career from recruiting to Diversity & Inclusion. His suggestions & ideologies are very optimistic, realistic & encouraging. I don’t mind telling this to the world that I was scared in the beginning to take up a complete Diversity & Inclusion role because I was scared of failure but then he once told me “Unless you try, you will never know what are you capable of & if you fail at what you did or do, I’m sure you won’t regret because you at least tried” & rest is the history in my past few years of journey within the Diversity & Inclusion space.
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