Business leaders across the world are prioritising on making their companies more diverse and inclusive as research shows that a diverse workforce has a competitive advantage over others. That said, companies might be confusing diversity with inclusion. Hiring people from diverse backgrounds isn’t enough. Bosses will have to systematically alter the workplace to ensure that all employees have adequate psychological safety to be their best selves at work. Getting diversity and inclusion right is a constant work in progress.
There’s good news for business leaders and HR managers trying to create a diverse and inclusive workspace as they are spoilt for choice as far as learning about D&I is concerned.
In India, over 40 million people listen to podcasts and this number is only growing steadily. Podcasts offer the unique ability to communicate human stories and enable discussion using the warmth of voice and personal connection like no other medium can.
Stories are important in shaping our understanding of our place in the world and so is the case with D&I. This list of podcast series and episodes offers an important source of developing empathy towards others — a key ingredient in any D&I effort.
The 10 podcasts on this list strike a balance between ‘learning at home’ and ‘learning from others’. Featured here are voices that focus on bigger questions of D&I and the most effective way to put it into practice, as well as voices that focus on individual stories of hardships. Happy listening folks!
Based in Delhi, this BBC podcast talks about the realities of modern work life in India, the many opportunities it offers, and the obstacles people encounter in accessing those opportunities. Over 45 episodes have been aired since May 2019. The podcast addresses many issues (gender, disability, sexuality, religion and caste) that will help business leaders and managers get an understanding of how working folks in India are coping at their respective workplaces.
A typical episode lasts 30 minutes, which means one could catch up on a good quality discussion while they sip their morning coffee and make breakfast. Here are a few recommended episodes from the podcast you can find on Spotify: The hidden world of modern slavery (25th August, 2019), Transforming transgender lives (9th December, 2019) and Fighting for dignity and inclusion (20th January, 2020).
Choose Inclusion is an American podcast that started in September 2019 and is hosted by “a blind man, a woman of color, and a wannabe Latino” discusses various aspects of D&I. In its 20+ episodes on Spotify, you can develop a nuanced understanding of D&I issues ranging from how to Turn Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into strategy (5th December, 2019), to historicising the conversation on the need for accessibility and discussing how things should be in the future (20th April, 2020). For example, one of the hosts Nina Baliga, a tech developer, talks about building inclusive technology and how that process got her to recognise the need for inclusion within her organisation in the TED talk linked above.
A limited podcast that will bring delight to those looking for an academic understanding of contemporary issues as it takes a theoretical deep dive into how our increased interactions on the internet are transforming public sphere. Led and co-hosted by Sahana Udupa, an Indian scholar and social anthropologist for the project ‘For Digital Dignity’, the podcast offers lucid lessons on how religion, feminism, caste and nationalism are unfolding on the internet and how Indians are dealing with it.
From a D&I perspective, the second episode has host Ian Cook discussing Dalit politics with co-founder of Round Table India Kuffir Nalgundwar. In half an hour, you will not only get an understanding of the history of Dalit politics, but also a reality check on how little we’ve done as a society to uproot the exploitative caste system. The biggest takeaway is Nalgundwar’s incisive take on the lack of Dalit journalists in the Indian media. It has been long enough and media organisations in India need to prioritise on D&I right about now.
No podcast gives you a more complete listening experience than Women in Labour. Hosted by comic Aditi Mittal and journalist-cum-filmmaker Christina MacGillivray, the podcast covers a wide range of issues (childcare, navigating a male-dominated workplace/sector, decreasing number of women in the workforce, and more) that women face as they work in India.
As for providing a complete experience, each episode has a dedicated page that shares information about the guest speaker and what the episode is going to be about. In addition to this, the episode also provides for further reading. From a D&I perspective, Women in Labour offers insights from folks who understand patriarchy and have found a way to explain and/or circumvent it — HR professionals only stand to gain from tuning in as they will build an understanding of specific challenges women face at work and at home. Three recommended episodes are Episode 11 (Creches are Crucial), Episode 14 (The Economics of The Issue) and Episode 17 (Enabling Others).
Created by Melinda Briana Epler, a senior professional with over 25 years of experience in developing strategies for business inclusion and innovation in the United States, the weekly podcast discusses D&I issues, including, but not limited to, disability advocacy, mental health, xenophobia and Islamophobia, and trans and gender non-conforming allyship.
The Tech Inclusion podcast — a separate offering from Change Catalyst — has young folks from Silicon Valley talk about their experiences of building diverse and inclusive practices at tech companies. This podcast is a goldmine for anybody trying to understand D&I issues irrespective of their nationality. Most speakers occupy intersectional identities, which makes each podcast unique. It’ll be hard to harbour biases once you’ve tuned into Change Catalyst.
At 210 episodes, Queer Money by partners David Auten and John Schneider, is a one-of-a-kind podcast for queer folks on how they can manage their personal finances, live debt-free, and navigate in a world that sees and treats them differently. The podcast may be set in America, but it surely serves as a reminder on just how much can be discussed and done to make the lives of Indian LGBTQ+ folks better. Episode 108 titled Return on Equality with Todd Sears is a good place to start to understand how D&I policies can be made to facilitate the professional growth of queer employees and help them reach leadership positions.
Express Audio and UN Women joined forces for this limited podcast hosted by Ameya Nagarajan that focuses on violence against women (VAW) in India. In a series of seven episodes, the podcast addresses VAW in India both in public and private sphere. The episodes have several professionals weighing in with statistics and their expertise on how violence should not be seen as an explicit action of physical harm inflicted on women by other people. The podcast also goes on to reveal the systemic marginalisation of women on a daily basis. It’s essential to understand the many barriers that women have to overcome to be their most productive selves at work to be able to then build better D&I policies for them.
Just like other podcasts that focus on D&I, That’s Now How That Works also takes up issues of gender, sexuality and race, and dissects them critically. That said, it does one crucial thing differently – it turns the spotlight on those with the most privilege and all the things they need to be doing to be better co-workers and leaders.
In most conversations on D&I, the need to include and work with privileged folks within a certain context has been largely missing. Bridging this gap, hosts Weeze and Trudi, who call themselves JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) masters, unpack the little things about White privilege that need deeper introspection and correction. If something similar is done in India, it’ll have the potential to greatly enrich the conversation on D&I. Till that happens, this podcast can guide Indian bosses on how to go about unpacking their own privilege and those of others in their workspace to make room for them.
An Indus Vox Media (IVM) podcast, Keeping It Queer, hosted by comedian Navin Noronha and Farhad Karkaria (who also co-hosts another queer podcast GayBCD), takes a look at the world through the queer lens. Now in its third season, the podcast deals with personal relationships, gender fluidity, asexuality, human rights, politics, and more. Keeping It Queer should be the go-to resource center for HR managers who are trying to figure how to hire and include queer folks within their organisation. The podcast provides the much-needed visibility to queer folks and does a great job at amplifying their voices. We need Keeping It Queer to keep it coming.
Actor and host Kalki Koechlin takes to the BBC style of documentary-like narration to speak to Indians with unique stories. Koechlin is sensitive in her treatment of complex issues and the podcast plays out like a story. Clocking under 30 minutes, each episode manages to not just educate you about the lived realities of a person, but also about how society functions to impact such individuals. Indian bosses have a lot of work to do to get D&I at their workplace right — starting with checking their own biases, opening up to the lived experiences of their employees, and accepting the issues they face as legitimate. The drag king (6th December, 2019), The Goddess of Big Things (22nd September, 2018) and A Question of Caste (15th September, 2018) are three episodes you could begin with.
If you’re keen on building better D&I policies or just want to work on being a better co-worker, this list should help you get started on that journey. All you have to do is tune into an episode at a place where you can listen without interruptions. Off you go now!
Psssst: ‘Ungender’ is starting its own podcast dedicated exclusively to the issues under D&I in India, sign up for the beta now.
About the author: At Ungender, Rajkanya writes about the many ways in which modern workplaces can become inclusive. As a graduate student, she’s exploring the location of gender in issues of cyber security, artificial intelligence and violent extremism. She’s previously worked with online social justice media platform Youth Ki Awaaz as an editor.
This article has been edited by Varna.
Note: Ungender Insights is the product of our learning from advisory work at Ungender. Our team specialises in advising workplaces on workplace diversity and inclusion. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to understand how we can partner with your organisation to build a more inclusive workplace.