Being respected at work can transform an individual's perspective towards their organization. It can enable them to be more confident and expressive, and even result in greater productivity. Empathy among co-workers is as important a factor for growth as incentives. At Amazon India, educating, supporting, and accepting one’s co-workers are key driving forces for creating an inclusive work space. This year for Pride Month, we sat down with a few out and proud Amazonians and learned from them on what makes a workplace ideal for LGBTQIA+ employees.
Himanshu's quest for Respect
Himanshu is a recent member of the Amazon India family, and work at one of our Sort Centres in. Abandoned by his family at a young age when he came out as transgender, he was labeled as ‘diseased’, put under treatment, and separated from his siblings. Facing discrimination at school, he was mocked and ostracized by other kids, and had to finish his education himself.
Forced to earn alms and do a variety of odd jobs to support himself, Himanshu never let his keen interest in studies die out. While working for an NGO called Pahal, he participated in LGBTQIA+ awareness campaigns and got acquainted with Amazon. “I have been at the Amazon Sort Centre for the past 9 months. These 9 months have been the happiest phase of my life so far. Amazon offers me respect and equal opportunities — something I have always longed for in my personal and professional life,” says Himanshu. “I'm happy that I can dress up the way I want without being judged by anyone. I want to go on a long journey with Amazon.”
Himanshu is now thriving in his identity. Being part of a workplace where he is treated as an equal and with respect is highly motivating and liberating for him.
Manish's quest for Inclusivity
For a long time, Manish struggled with embracing his identity. He recalls being mocked and questioned for not participating in sports meant for boys as a young boy. Fighting gender biases since an early age, he realized the importance of having allies as he grew older.
Manish has been a part of Amazon India for five years now. He says, "It’s encouraging to be part of a workplace where everyone is treated equally and fairly, irrespective of their background or gender. There are so many good things about coming out in a workplace that is so inclusive. I am respected for my contributions, my performance, and who I am. I've met several people who didn't know much about the LGBTQIA+ community, and yet they were so welcoming and open to learning. This has helped me gain a lot of allies who are today championing diversity and inclusivity at work."
Feeling included and accepted at work has broadened Manish's outlook on how workplaces can accommodate people from different identities and provide them with equal opportunities.
Amit's quest for Acceptance
In the initial years of his career, Amit didn’t feel comfortable talking about his identity and orientation with colleagues. At Amazon, he discovered the importance of creating awareness about the LGBTQIA+ community and by not only learning more but also educating peers.
An important part of coming out is the acceptance of people around you, be it family, friends, or colleagues. Says Amit, “I never had to put on a 'straight' face at Amazon. I was out to everyone with confidence from Day 1. I started working at Amazon in 2018 and I've seen first hand how inclusive the environment here is. My colleagues are interested in learning about my identity and the community, and we've had many positive conversations. I feel happy educating them and they are happy to keep learning.”
Amit adds that people who are still in the closet often fear being rejected and ostracized from society and social groupings. At work, there's fear of being alienated from the teams they work with. "They're afraid of being bullied and treated differently. I believe that one should focus on their efforts, do things that make them happy, and have an optimistic attitude. I know this is easier said than done, but I've learned that someone's negative reaction to my orientation and gender should not have an impact on my health or mental well-being."
Amit is now an active part of several online communities. He provides guidance to people struggling to come out and and is an evangelist for the challenges LGBTQIA+ people face and how to deal with them. He believes that having just one ally can have a significant impact on their life. “Acceptance can help an LGBTQIA+ person gain so much confidence. It can be a ray of sunshine and happiness in their life,” he says.
Amazon prides itself as an equal opportunity employer. From enabling just one affinity group in 2005 to supporting over 13 employee resource groups (ERGs) around the world, Amazon recognises the transformational power that empathy and education can have on its employees. With global operations like Glamazon in place, Amazon acknowledges the struggles that members of the LGBTQIA+ community go through and is committed to empowering them professionally.
To learn more about Amazon's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, watch this video with Beth Galetti, who is Amazon's Senior VP of People eXperience and Technology.