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India’s 1st Academic-Corporate Fellowship Program for Transgender Persons

 

India, April 13, 2022: Pernod Ricard India Foundation today announced its partnership with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and the Collective Good Foundation (CGF) to launch India’s first Academic-Corporate Fellowship Program for the transgender community. This program will systemically enable trans persons from underserved communities across India to craft their career paths in the corporate world.

With inequitable access to education and skills, the trans persons are often forced to take up menial roles in society and continue to face significant socio-economic and cultural barriers in their journey towards financial independence and to be in the corporate workforce. In addition, with barriers like the high bar on minimum education and experience, along with the lack of gender-neutral policies, systems & infrastructures, and low social acceptance, only a few trans persons ever make it to the executive and managerial positions in their corporate careers. This fellowship program will provide adequate training and exposure to transform them to take on managerial and higher up positions in the corporate ladder. Trans persons between the age group of 18-25 years can apply for the program as there is no higher education bar for the applicants. These applicants will be shortlisted through an online process followed by a round of group discussions and personal interviews. The first batch of 20 fellows aims to start on 1st July. Applications for the one-year Fellowship are now open and will close on 30th April 2022. 

Speaking about the program, Sashidhar Vempala, Head – CSR & Chief Sustainability Officer at Pernod Ricard India, said, “Aligned to our global commitment to inclusion & diversity, Pernod Ricard India, strives to transform communities by accelerating local development. Empowering people, especially women in rural areas, differently abled persons and other minority groups including LGBTQIA+ is core to our social transformation and incubation vision. Through this Transformation Fellowship program, we want to harness the power of collaborative efforts to steer pathbreaking inclusion for underserved trans persons within our communities. We are passionate about creating equitable workplaces, where individuals, regardless of their gender identity or sexual and cultural orientation, can bring their authentic selves to work every day.”

Also, Zainab Patel, Lead – Inclusion and Diversity at Pernod Ricard India, says, “The world is an especially difficult place for trans persons who face constant biases and are never judged on the basis of their talent. It is very important to create an inclusive culture where people from all societal strata and gender identities feel like they belong, and the first step is equitable education. This will create the cornerstone for trans persons to find gainful employment – a thought that is firmly embedded in PRI’s ethos and its commitment towards people, planet, and communities. We strongly believe in investing in and nurturing gender agnostic talent pools to truly harness the power of human capabilities and connection and this program is a step towards building an ecosystem of equal work opportunities for trans persons.”

Talking about the program, Prof Satyajit Majumdar, Dean and Professor, School of Management and Labor Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, said, “The Institute has always been guided by the vision of building an equitable society through cutting-edge research, contemporary course curriculum and action on ground. With a strong history of enabling the marginalized, we are happy to partner with Pernod Ricard India Foundation for the cause of transgender inclusion in the workforce and are committed to enabling them to reimagine their futures through people-centered innovation.”

The one-year fellowship program is divided into two distinct phases. The first phase seeks to build theoretical acumen in business subjects and workplace skills through 6 months of immersive classroom training and project work led by the faculty and mentors at TISS. It will be followed by 6-months of hands-on workplace immersion through internships at leading corporates and non-profits to provide multi-faceted exposure and experiential learning. Each fellow will be offered a total stipend of INR 2,40,000 along with INR 96,000 for travel and stay during the year. Through both phases, fellows will be provided with constant emotional and psycho-social support in addition to career guidance from experienced LGBTQIA+ professionals, leaders from corporates, industry and non-profits.

Upon successful graduation, the fellows will be awarded with the completion certificates from TISS. This will provide them with strong credentials that will enable corporate inclusion. Further, the fellows will also be assisted in charting out their future goals, and the program will attempt to facilitate corporate placements for interested fellows in partnership with Pride Circle.

As concern grows about workplace diversity in the last decade, businesses across the world and India have ramped up their efforts to improve inclusion. From just hiring more women, many organizations are expanding the definition to include all genders, races, ethnicities, and abilities. While there has been some progress with hiring LGBTQIA+ persons, it is the transgender youth who continue to face significant socio-economic and cultural barriers in their corporate journeys.

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