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A Comprehensive Guide To Understanding Diversity And Inclusion At The Workplace

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Written by: Rajkanya Mahapatra

Editor’s Note: This beginner’s guide on ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ puts together all of Ungender’s good work from 2020 on the subject in one list. It is meant to serve as an easy-to-access guide to understand D&I as concepts and also what they mean in the Indian context, insights from several companies on how they came to draft and implement their D&I policies, how you can measure it, and more. 

Read it as a refresher, save it as your go-to list of resources on Diversity and Inclusion In India or write to the Ungender Insights editor at on what more you’d like to read on the subject. 

Understanding Diversity And Inclusion

1) Are Companies Confusing Diversity With Inclusion?

In the last couple of years, ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ as a phrase and as a conversation has picked up currency in India’s corporate circles. It’s important to understand what to make of diversity and inclusion – both as concepts and how they’re likely to manifest at the workplace.

Read this piece to understand the growing business case for D&I at the workplace, and if you’re an HR professional, employer or thought leader, bookmark this for easy access, I guarantee you’ll need to come back to this for reference.

Read the article, here

2) 12 Books On Diversity And Inclusion For Indian Managers At Work

As an HR leader, if you’re trying to think of ways to get your D&I policies right, like everything else, books are a good place to start. It’s important to approach D&I policies with empathy and awareness to get them right. Find 12 books on this list that will help you build more perspective on the lived experiences of your current and incoming workforce. On this list, find books by Nivedita Menon, Kavita Krishnan, Al Etmanski, Omprakash Valmiki, A Revathi, and more.

Read the article, here

Virat Kohli was granted paternity leave by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). People are criticising him on social media on the basis of sexist and patriarchal notions.

3) 10 Podcasts Indian Bosses Should Be Listening To

If you think it will be a while before you can pick one of the 12 books mentioned on the above list, start small and listen to a podcast instead. You can listen to a podcast when you’re cooking, stuck in traffic, or just sitting in a peaceful space trying to tune in to something useful. Allow these 10 podcasts to bring you fresh perspectives from people of diverse backgrounds. On the list are podcasts from BBC India, Women In Labour, Kalki Koechlin, and more.

Read the article, here

4) Explained: Why India Needs Paternity Leaves

India’s ace cricketer Virat Kohli set off a long-pending conversation on paternity leaves when it was made known to the world through news reports that his request for paternity leave was approved by the BCCI.

The arguments that ensued after the news broke out reflected India’s patriarchal and sexist attitude to caregiving and went as far as to question Virat Kohli’s patriotism as he ‘gave up’ his duty to the nation. Far from that noise, this article by Ungender writer, Avanti Deshpande, discusses the need for paternity leaves, describes how far the legal conversation on paternity leaves in India has progressed, and more.

Read the article, here

How To Become More Sensitive And Aware At Work

5) How Not To Offend Your Colleagues At Work

There are many reasons why we should consider revisiting our first reactions to jokes or careless statements made in front of our colleagues because a lot of the time it’s our conditioning that speaks for/before us.

The societies we grow up in condition us to think and perceive the world a certain way – think of gender identities, roles, different communities differently based on our social location. It’s important to be aware and sensitive when you work with others and this piece helps you with just that. It shares pointers you can use to introspect your actions at work and become a better coworker.

Read the article, here

6) 3 Ways To Respond To Sexist Jokes At Work

Workplaces can often be patriarchal and that can manifest in how men in the workforce think, what the leadership says if women feel psychologically and physically safe at work, and more. One of the insidious ways in which systemic patriarchy is made known to women at the workplace is sexist jokes.

Workplace jokes is a manifestation of systemic patriarchy and misogyny.

How do you communicate to someone and tell them that the joke was sexist? How do you react? Do you laugh and let the moment pass by? Allow this article to share three very simple ways in which you can communicate with your coworker when they crack a sexist joke.

Read the article, here.

How To Implement D&I Online

7) The Menace Of Manels

As the world went into lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, work moved from the office to home. The lockdown saw a spike in online discussions and Ungender noticed, a lot of these discussions only had all-male panels, even on topics that were about women!

This piece tells you what’s wrong with all-male panels and how they serve as brutal reminders of who occupies the most space, has the most agency, and enjoys the most amount of legitimacy and visibility in the Indian workforce. Read this piece not just for the arguments but also for the painstakingly curated data that will give you an idea about the menace of manels.

Read the article, here

8) Ungender Shares 8 Steps To Organise Diverse And Inclusive Online Discussions

A quick guide by Ungender founder Pallavi Pareek on how to finalize a speaker set for your online panels and conferences inclusively. Right from appointing a diverse team to curate the speaker set to preparing a checklist to ensure that you have the right speaker for your topic and that your final speaker set will bring to the discussion diverse perspectives.

Read the article, here

9) 3 Ways To Make Your Webinar More Inclusive

This article is a detailed guide, one that encourages you to adopt an inclusive approach to organizing any event. It focuses on how you can choose the right topic, identify the right stakeholders for the chosen topic, and how to ensure you have the right people to talk about it. The article is full of examples and that should help you visualize how to put the said pointers into action.

Read the article, here

What Companies Have Done To Implement D&I

10) Lessons To Learn From IKEA’s D&I Policies

After establishing the basics of D&I, discussing how the lack of it shows up as incidents of discrimination and exclusion, we’re going to reorient our focus on companies who are doing something to fix systemic issues.

In this article find insights from IKEA management in India in how they’re working to ensure their workforce is gender-equal. Also, understand what steps you can take as an HR professional to facilitate diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

Read the article, here.

11) How To Implement D&I At The Workplace

This article will ask you to not discriminate, tell you what it means to scale inclusion and what changes you’ll need to make in your hiring procedures to ensure you have the right D&I priorities. Find what the hotel chain Lemon Tree Hotels, aviation company JetSetGo, and feminist publishers Zubaan Books do to implement their D&I policies.

Read the article, here

What Companies Can Do To Become More Inclusive

12) 6 Ways To Measure Diversity At The Workplace

Drafting and implementing a D&I policy is just the first step to building a workforce that is more productive and feels psychologically and physically safe at work. As the team or manager in charge of the execution of the D&I policy, how do you begin to measure it? How do you gauge the effectiveness of the D&I policy? In this article by Team Ungender, find six ways you can begin to measure diversity at the workplace.

Read the article, here

13) 6 Steps Indian Bosses Must Take To Ensure All Employees Feel Equally Valued

This article speaks directly to senior management and the leadership of the company. Why? Because D&I policies are the most effective when it enjoys the company leadership’s approval and active involvement. This article will act both as a refresher and as a checklist to ensure your intention is aligned and reflects well in your D&I policy.

Read the article, here.

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  1. Indian LGBT+ Activist Ritushree Talks Of Transphobia Experience In Office – Minority Times

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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