BALCO Promotes Gender Awareness in Community with Month-Long Initiatives for Pride Month

Report manpreet singh

Raipur chhattisgarh VISHESH Balconagar; 10th July 2024: Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), India’s iconic aluminium producer and a part of Vedanta Aluminium, organized a series of activities within its operations and the surrounding community to raise awareness during International Pride Month. The month-long activities drew wide participation from over 250 employees, business partners and community members, uniting to foster an inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ community.

The month-long initiatives entailed a community sensitization workshop, inviting community leaders, grassroot workers, and other stakeholders to inspire behavioral change towards creating a gender-sensitive and inclusive society. This one-of-its-kind workshop in Chhattisgarh was led by Ms. Saburi Shankar, a transgender police constable and social activist from Chhattisgarh, and Ms. Aarohi Mahananda, an entrepreneur and social activist. The workshop spread awareness on the ‘Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2019,’ educating the community about the legal rights and protections of transgender individuals.

Reflecting on the progress so far, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, CEO & Director, BALCO said, “BALCO has constantly strived to foster an inclusive culture, challenging the traditional notion that metal production is exclusively a male-dominated field. By hiring transgender individuals, we became the first company in Chhattisgarh to employ transgenders in core operations. Today, we have also become the pioneers for conducting LGBTQ+ sensitization workshops within the local communities in the region. As we expand our operations, we are also broadening our inclusivity efforts by conducting LGBTQ+ hiring drives to ensure and inspire equal rights for all.”

Speaking of the interactive workshop with the community, Ms. Saburi Shankar, a transgender police constable and social activist from Chhattisgarh said, “The sensitization session at BALCO was not a one-day effort. The journey that BALCO started two years ago by hiring transgenders in its workforce has led to a series of impactful initiatives. I commend BALCO for initiating such a session at the grassroot level, spreading awareness and inclusivity in the society.”

Furthermore, the month-long activities entailed a Pride march in the plant, followed by a series of activities like poster and slogan-writing competitions to showcase solidarity and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual.
BALCO in alignment with Vedanta’s vision has been committed to developing and promoting an inclusive work environment where every individual feels respected, valued, and empowered with its consistent efforts including:
• Introduction of the ‘Gender Reaffirmation Leaves and Compensation Policy’ for LGBTQ+ employees offering one-time grant of 2 lakh rupees and a 30-day paid leave for individuals undergoing gender reassignment surgeries.
• Conducting gender sensitization workshops with employees to nurture a culture of inclusion & respect
• Adopting a three-pronged approach to ease the transgender community’s accelerated transition from the margins of society to major manufacturing operations by firstly evaluating and identifying transgenders displaying appropriate skills essential for working within operations through skill mapping studies. Secondly, it focuses on the comprehensive skill augmentation of operational skills, soft skills, and business knowledge to build their acumen for profound impact at work. Finally, BALCO enables an inclusive atmosphere through gender-sensitization sessions and developing gender-neutral infrastructure, cultivating a conducive workplace for inclusion.

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