As in other cultures around the world, India’s culture hasn’t traditionally been easy for the LGBTQIA+ community. That’s one of the reasons why Adhish (Adi) Mehrotra, Director of Marketing & Communications, thought it was important to find a way to create a support system for both himself and his colleagues so that they can be and express their authentic selves.
“It’s so important for all of us to be our authentic selves both at work and in our personal lives. But not everyone feels like they have a safe space to do that. I’m proud that Conduent, and the incredible colleagues I work with both inside and outside of our PRIDE India group, support a company culture of inclusion and acceptance. Within that framework, we’re in the best possible position to make progress toward changing attitudes, as well as building self-confidence and pride in who we are.”
– Adi Mehrotra
While growing up in a small town in India and attending an all-boys school, Adi knew he was different. He liked things like the arts, theater, and public speaking and was often ostracized by his classmates. He later came out to friends and family in India but still felt like he had to hide who he was, particularly at the places where he worked. The turning point was when he spent seven years in the United States living in San Francisco, CA. Adi said that experience “made him comfortable in claiming who he is,” and without that positive experience, he might not have had the confidence to be an out leader in India today.
While Conduent is a new company with just four years in operation, Adi was thrilled to see and be involved with the company’s early formation of a variety of Employee Impact Groups. These are groups open to anyone with the goal of building understanding, participating in open discussions and activities and meeting others who may feel marginalized within the broader community. While Conduent had various groups such as the Black Impact Group, Conduent Salutes (military focus), Disability Impact Group and PRIDE — to name a few — Adi believed that something special was needed to support and raise up members of the LGBTQIA+ community in India.
Building PRIDE India
With the support of his management team in India and the U.S., Adi worked together with others to create Conduent’s PRIDE India chapter. While the group is very small right now, Adi knows that there are associates who need a safe space to share their thoughts, find support, and feel comfortable being their true selves. To help people feel safe, Adi has found a way for people to join conversations with anonymity so that they can still share and learn, even if they are not ready to be out. He shared that being out in India is challenging because your personal and professional connections overlap and can impact your future when others judge you based on your affiliations.
This situation can mean that LGBTQIA+ people must work harder to fight bias, cover who they are, and compensate in ways that can have a negative impact on both mental and physical health. Through our PRIDE India chapter, our LGBTQIA+ associates in India can find the support they need to feel more comfortable being their themselves and living a full life, both inside and outside of the workplace.