Bombay Times Out & Proud @Work campaign aims to build inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ+ community

The campaign is being taken to various companies and many on-ground events are also planned around it, as per Neeti Chopra, Brand Director, Times Metro Supplements and The Economic Times

Sakshi Sharma
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Bombay Times Out & Proud @Work campaign aims to build inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ+ community

Bombay Times partnered with the Pride Circle and FCB India for the second edition of the 'Out & Proud' campaign, titled 'Out & Proud @Work', aimed at promoting inclusivity and highlighting the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the workplaces. 

In an exclusive conversation with, Neeti Chopra, Brand Director, Times Metro Supplements and The Economic Times, said that the main challenge is to increase the level of sensitivity towards the community and to encourage organisations to hire people from the community. 

The campaign is being taken to various companies and many on-ground events are also planned around it, Swati Bhattacharya, Creative Chairperson, FCB India, said.

Campaign is aimed towards people developing sensitivity towards the LGBTQ+ community 

Swati Bhattacharya

Speaking about the campaign, Bhattacharya said, “Times of India's commitment to the cause is not new, we had done ‘Out & Proud’ in 2019. That was about giving a place to the community in the newspaper and this one is about creating a place for the community in corporate India and our workspaces.” 

Neeti Chopra

Neeti Chopra, Brand Director, Times Metro Supplements and The Economic Times said that the first campaign spoke about giving a platform to the LGBTQ+ community to come out and talk about their stories. 

“One of the very big unspoken issues is to do with the fact about the ability to have a fair and non-discriminatory livelihood. There was a report done by Accenture which said that 86% of this community does not feel supported by their employees when it comes to issues like diversity, gender expression or sexual identity or being welcoming towards those who identify as LGBTQ+ at work. Only 31% of these employees actually felt that they could open up or express their identity at work. Swati in conversation with the Pride Circle helped us with a lot of connections and true stories in this campaign,” Chopra said. 

She added, “We felt that the time has come for us to look at a platform which we can provide, like Times metro supplements. We have always brought out these issues to the readers and the impact of this is not only for the LGBTQ+ community, but more for everyone else to develop sensitivity or empathy for what they are perhaps going through and for them to employ people from the community.”

The campaign film:

Speaking about the biggest challenges in promoting inclusivity at workplaces, Chopra said, “The key challenge that we have to overcome is to heighten the level of sensitivity among the workforce towards the LGBTQ+ community. The second big challenge is to encourage organisations to hire people from this community as well and create a set-up to make the workplaces more welcoming and inclusive.”

“Writer and activist Rajarao said that when hiring a sexual minority candidate, we have to always keep in mind the biases that they have faced. He says that we need to have processes in place that actually encourage and motivate those who are coming with a different sexual orientation because that's the first line of defence,” she added. 

Bhattacharya stated that people from the community sometimes are not being their authentic selves and hide their identity at workplaces due to certain reasons. 

"If you are not being yourself at the workplace then your work will also suffer. The other bit is that people who have come out have other problems, like maybe the employer may feel a little nervous about them being client-facing and not being taken to important meetings. Maybe at the time of increment, the employer feels that people from the community have got a job and that itself is good enough, and they should not be asking for more,” she added.

Furthermore, Bhattacharya said that this campaign is talking to the people who are to be hired and people who are already in the organisations but are not coming out. 

Editorial keeps the dialogue alive, the first leg of the campaign grabbed many eyeballs

Speaking about the success of the first leg of the campaign, Chopra said that the Out & Proud campaign was one of the most celebrated campaigns and it won several awards.

Adding on to what Chopra said, Bhattacharya stated, “Just imagine that in the largest-read newspaper in the country, people were opening it to read stories from the community. The most boring part of the newspaper, which is classified, attracted people to read it. The editorial keeps the dialogue alive, on TV everything is too loud so this becomes the most genuine way to talk to India.”

Speaking about her first campaign for the Times of India, Bhattacharya said, “Even my first campaign for Times of India on 'Sindoor Khela' done for Calcutta Times, won an award four years back but every time during Durga Puja it is still embraced by the community. That is a big reward and it happens very rarely but change does happen and it stays in society and doesn't get over with the awards season. That is the ambition for this campaign as well.”

Campaign is being taken to various organisations, online training course in plans

Coming back to the plans for the Out & Proud @Work campaign, Bhattacharya said that it has just been launched and a lot of things are yet to be done.

“We want to culminate this into something that happens in a big way on the ground. We are taking this campaign with the Pride Circle to many companies, we are meeting all kinds of HR Executives, we are trying to do an online training course which is free for all - which the Pride Circle is organising for us. We are also wanting to take it to the biggest job fair ever for the LGBTQ+ community,” she said.

“Amplification is going to happen across print, TV and digital mediums. We are going to use LinkedIn in a very major way besides Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. Our editorial team will continue to support this campaign because I think this needs gravitas and a serious voice. This is not about tokenism, rather it's about people's livelihood,” she added. 

Chopra added that the campaign will be promoted across social media platforms, and the editorial team is also going to bring up stories.

“We are also trying to create this conversation and open a dialogue in various organisations and bring out the stories of those organisations who are doing something in this space. We are very excited about doing something that will make a difference to a certain set of society in whatever small way we can. As a newspaper, our small is really large and I am quite sure that we will have an impact,” Chopra said. 

“People have a right to a fair and non-discriminatory livelihood and that should not be denied to them because I am now going to use a phrase which Swati used throughout the thinking of this campaign, and that is 'What is unsaid is not unfelt', and that's a very important point,” she added.

workplace Times of India TOI LGBTQ+ FCB India inclusivity Neeti Chopra Bombay Times Swati Bhattacharya