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Pride Month is coming to an end. Many corporations have been vocal about hosting parades, festivals, and workshops to not just spread awareness about queer history but also to create an accepting space for them. Swati Rustagi, Director, DE&I, International Markets, WW Consumer, Amazon, talks about the need for creating gender-neutral restrooms, offering same-gender partner health insurance coverage, creating opportunities for persons with disabilities and others, with B Krishna Mohan

Importance of DEI

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) mean building a culture that empowers diverse communities. Amazon has policies and mechanisms built on a platform of equity. In the last few years, we focused our efforts around women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and agender (LGBTQIA) community, military veterans, and the differently-abled.

Hyderabad focus

Amazon India’s commitment to Hyderabad is high because of the significant presence the company has here. We have more energy when it comes to our efforts from acceptance, tolerance or employment opportunity points of view. Telangana and Hyderabad rank higher on awareness and acceptance. Our stance is against discrimination and violence towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We work to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance. Amazon India holds sensitisation exercises to remove bias and discrimination. Senior staff engage with diverse groups to understand their issues and ensure that no negative culture is endured.

Celebrating diversity

Amazon piloted an initiative to train persons with hearing impairment in packing shipments at our Fulfillment Centre (FC) in Hyderabad. This expanded to Bengaluru, Chennai, Indore, Mumbai and Pune. We also have a ‘Silent Delivery Station’ where our delivery service partner employs speech and hearing-impaired individuals. Amazon India has gender-neutral restrooms across offices. The company offers ‘same-gender partner coverage programme,’ which helps employees enroll their same-gender partner in their health insurance. The Employee Assistance Programme also supports the LGBTQIA employees with resources, counselling and guidance if they want to be open about their sexuality with their family, friends or colleagues.

Key initiatives

We have ‘Rekindle’ to bring back women who have taken a break in their careers. It focuses on structured on-boarding, mentoring, flexible work options and other aspects. There are also modules for women in middle management to grow into leadership roles. Some of them also focus on making mentors, women engineering students, transition to work post-maternity leave. Amazon Delivery Service partners in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh run all-women delivery stations. Opportunities for transgenders have been created in our network including at fulfillment, sort and delivery centres. We also have a Military Veterans Employment Programme. We also have an all-women virtual customer service (VCS) centre in Bengaluru.

Challenges with DEI initiatives?

Organisations should understand that inclusion is the foundation of diversity programmes. As a first step, they should initiate sessions and modules which help different groups feel included. Many lack awareness of issues associated with diversity. DEI initiatives should go beyond the CSR compliance and make sure that various individuals get opportunities to be financially independent. A focused contribution is needed to bridge access gaps to such opportunities or education. The industry should work with governments and public bodies to create infrastructure that allows access for people with disabilities or even building gender-neutral bathrooms. There is really no single platform where organisations can reach out and offer jobs or social security.




Author: Howard Caldwell