A report published by Boston Consulting Group, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and Pride Circle Foundation delves into the issues faced by LGBTQ+ students on Indian campuses. The report is a must-read for college administrations, faculty, and student representatives. Each of these stakeholders have a distinctive role to play in creating an inclusive environment on campus.
The study examines inclusivity issues around the LGBTQ+ community on Indian campuses through a survey of over 1700 students in colleges across India. It demonstrates how the establishment of a diversity and inclusion (D&I) student interest group can offer these students greater representation and improve the quality of their campus experience. It offers guidelines for the establishment of such a group.
The report presents statistics that prove how LGBTQ+ students can feel empowered when their institution has a D&I student interest group. It identifies key challenges and provides tips on how to address them.
‘Inclusivity’ for the LGBTQ+ community is taken as representation for members in an environment where they feel belonged, safe and comfortable to express their identity. The students were surveyed about forms of direct and indirect discrimination towards themselves or other community members. The awareness of students about LGBTQ+ issues was ascertained across campuses. They were asked to share their personal beliefs and biases about the LGBTQ+ community. Apprehensions and acceptance levels were examined. Case studies have been presented about the formation and relevance of support groups.
Explaining the rationale for the study, Ms. Seema Bansal, Partner and Director, Social Impact, Boston Consulting Group, said, “We don’t think of diversity and inclusion as a ‘good-to-do’ or a ‘responsible corporate citizen’ act; we think of it as a core strategic pillar that will make us stronger. It’s only when campus pools are adequately diverse and attract the best talent that we will be able to access the talent.” Professor Errol D’Souza, Director, IIM Ahmedabad, said, ” We are happy to note that our students have taken the initiative to be part of this study which we hope will be of help in encouraging talent, diversity and a culture of inclusion in educational institutions and the corporate world. It is unfortunate that the LGBTQ+ community is often missed out in important conversations.”
A similar view was echoed by Mr. Ramkrishna Sinha, Co-Founder, Pride Circle Foundation. “It is imperative that educational institutions provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, where they can focus on their growth and participate fully in campus life instead of spending energies trying to cover and hide,” he felt, adding, “Support networks need to be adopted by colleges across the country so that no student is left behind.”
Speaking about the report, Mr Parmesh Shahani, author of Queeristan: LGBTQ Inclusion in the Indian Workplace (2020) and Vice President, Godrej Industries Limited, expressed happiness at the coalition between a company, an educational institution, and an LGBTQ+ change agent. “These are exactly the kind of partnerships that are going to move the inclusion agenda forward in India. I firmly believe that along with legal change, one of the bastions of change will be the inclusive environment we can create in our workplaces and educational institutions.”