Axis Bank rolls out LGBTQIA+ friendly policies for staff, customers

‘ComeAsYouAre’ is a one-of-its-kind initiative by an Indian bank to further the DE&I agenda

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Axis Bank is seriously doing its bit to become a truly diverse and inclusive bank. Close on the heels of its ‘DilSeOpen’ philosophy, the Bank has rolled out the #ComeAsYouAre charter of policies and practices for its employees and customers belonging to the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex & Asexual) community.

This move has made the Bank one of the first in the country to take such steps to further its DE&I agenda.

As per the charter, the employees can enlist their partners, irrespective of gender, sex or marital status, for mediclaim benefits. All employees will be free to dress in accordance with their gender or gender expression. They are also free to use the restroom of their choice in accordance with their gender expression/gender identity. The Bank has put in place all-gender restrooms at all its large offices. It has made provisions to offer redressal to issues and challenges that employees from the LGBTQ+ community may face. As per the bank, these new policies will be implemented all across the organisation and functions.

“We are intentional in our approach and our #ComeAsYouAre charter is an invitation to every employee to express themselves freely if they would like to do so”

Rajkamal Vempati, Head-HR, Axis Bank

With this, the company has also introduced some changes in the leave policies as well. “We have replaced the word “Mother/maternity” with birthing parent to include transgender men and intersex persons who can give birth. We have replaced the word “paternity” with “partner of birthing parent” also, we have accounted for leaves needed for transgender persons,” shares Rajkamal Vempati, Head-HR, Axis Bank, talking to HRKatha.

As per the company, it is very difficult to say what is the percentage of employee population which may consist of LGBTQ+ community at the bank and also there has been no significant study in India to estimate the percentage of LGBTQ community. “Not all LGBTQIA+ persons are out and celebrating their true self at work,” says Vempati. But in alignment to the wider ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) commitment, diversity, inclusion and equality is a strategic focus for the bank. Internally AXIS Bank wants to focus on creating equitable processes and policies where every individual has equal opportunity to thrive at the workplace. “We are intentional in our approach and our #ComeAsYouAre charter is an invitation to every employee to express themselves freely if they would like to do so,” tells Vempati. She adds, “It is an invitation to every LGBTQIA+ applicant to join a workplace where there is intentional belonging.”

Though, the company has not revealed any concrete intentions of specifically hiring people from the LGBTQIA+ community but it is open to welcome and encourage people from all communities to apply for any role at the bank. Vempati also reveals that every opportunity at AXIS Bank comes with a note which states ‘#ComeAsYouAre. Women, LGBTQIA+ and PwD candidates are encouraged to apply.’  “At Axis Bank, every job role is open to everybody. “The idea of inclusion doesn’t stand valid, if it excludes certain communities,” asserts Vempati. She also reveals that at AXIS, the bank regularly conducts ‘pause for bias’ training to sensitise all employees at the bank and breaking their myths.

“Axis Bank respects and recognises the importance of distinctive life journeys and several identities that extend beyond the paradigms of gender”

Rajesh Dahiya, executive director, Axis Bank

Rajesh Dahiya, executive director, Axis Bank, reiterates that Axis Bank “respects and recognises the importance of distinctive life journeys and several identities that extend beyond the paradigms of gender. This for us is as much about the invisible markers as it is about the visible ones.” The #ComeAsYouAre initiative “fosters a culture of innovation and leverages the multiple talent pools that exist in a rich demography like ours.”

Even for customers, the Bank has rolled out inclusive banking offerings. Starting September 20, customers will be able to open a joint savings bank account or a term deposit with their same sex partner. The gender non-binary or gender fluid or transgender customers will be allowed to use ‘Mx’ as a title while filling in their details for opening accounts. They may also choose their same sex partners as nominees.

The Bank’s “work internally focusses on creating equitable processes and policies that allow us to create space for everyone to thrive,” points out Dahiya.

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