Asad is proud to work for a company that contributes to society. For him, Oracle’s positive action is two-fold: 1) Our technology solutions are solving critical real-world problems, and 2) We’re advancing important social issues for the LGBTQ+ community.
Emerging technologies for emerging economies
Since university, Asad has been inspired by the idea of using innovative technologies to help developing countries. When he started his career journey with Oracle 15 years ago, he was excited to join a company that was making a difference in this field.
“As an international technology powerhouse Oracle is uniquely placed to help answer some of the pressing questions that emerging economies face. We all know how telecommunications, AI, IoT, and big data can help with issues like agriculture, health, microfinance, and rural communication, so I’m very proud of the work that Oracle is doing in this space.”
Patience pays off
In terms of advancing social issues, this year marked a big turning point for the LGBTQ+ community in Oracle India: After two years of hard work and dedication, they officially started their first chapter of the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN). It was a unique journey that doesn’t easily compare to our other 43 chapters around the world.
“We’ve been working towards this goal for two years,” explains Asad who leads OPEN in India. “Leading up to the 2018 judgment by the Supreme Court of India on Article 377, there were many ups and downs regarding the decriminalization of gay relationships. Even post-judgment, it was still unclear what the legal implications were. We put in a significant amount of time and effort to get all the required approvals and clearances.”
Leaving the past behind
Asad says they also had social and cultural norms to consider. “Trans and other LGBTQ+ people have always been part of society here. However, and certainly for the past 200 years of colonization, they have been tolerated rather than accepted in society. Consequently, leading up to our launch, we didn’t know what to expect in terms of reaction.”
As it turned out, the time was ripe for OPEN India and the inclusive initiative was embraced with open arms. “In the end, our formal launch was a tremendous high. The level of support we received from management and many, many colleagues was something we hadn’t expected,” he admits.
Everyone can be themselves
Asad says OPEN’s emphasis on acceptance has resulted in more of his colleagues sharing their authentic selves at work. “We’ve had so many more colleagues come out since we started! What’s better than seeing friends and colleagues comfortable being themselves, knowing they will not be judged, that they have the support of their managers and team, and the backing of the entire OPEN community?”
Asad asked one such colleague what Oracle’s focus on inclusion meant to them. This is what they had to say: “Oracle is a place of acceptance for people who don't find acceptance at home. The fact that we provide a platform and language to help people give voice to their feelings is worth celebrating. Given its reputation as an industry giant, Oracle’s support makes for a ringing endorsement for the community in India.”
Breaking down barriers
So, how is OPEN India working to advance LGBTQ+ equality? Currently, some of their initiatives include organizing employee training on LGBTQ+ issues (like mental health and coming out), spreading internal awareness of our diverse benefits (Oracle India provides medical coverage for gender reassignment surgery as well as free counselling services), and collaborating with other employee resource groups to provide equal career growth opportunities for all.
OPEN India has even managed to make progress in spite of the challenging circumstances surrounding COVID-19. “Social distancing has brought unexpected and wonderful possibilities. We’re having more community calls, reaching out internationally, and hosting great virtual events,” Asad shares. “Relief initiatives for the transgender community in India were terribly impacted by the lockdown, so we were delighted to be able to support non-profits like Humsafar Trust and Sangama.”
A place for Pride
How is OPEN India marking its first ever Pride? Asad lights up. “Everyone is so looking forward to our 24-hour virtual Pride Day. Instead of just celebrating locally, we’ll be connecting with OPEN communities all over the world for a jumbo global event!”
In case you had any doubts about the importance of accepting people for who they truly are, Asad concludes by sharing the business case for diversity and inclusion. “The finest organizations increasingly understand that employees can’t bring their best selves to work unless they can bring their whole selves. Providing a positive, inclusive environment is critical for the future of work.”
Learn more about how Oracle supports the LGBTQ+ community at work and beyond.