Pride after June: Mental health and inclusion

Is ‘queering the workplace’ a distant dream, a work in progress, or the corporate conversation checklist that peaks during Pride month before it stops ‘trending’ and #Pride loses its ‘viral’ steam? Or is it now woven into the DNA of progressive brand culture?
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Hello Reader,

They say money can’t buy happiness. But if you have enough, you can even buy a dinosaur! 

For the first time ever, Sotheby’s is putting up a full Gorgosaurus skeleton for auction and presale estimates value it at a cool $5-8 million. Dollar-dollar bill, y’all. The last time the auction house sold a dinosaur was the complete fossil of a T-Rex—named Sue (not kidding)—in 1997 for $8.36 million.

Speaking of money, domestic markets rallied on Wednesday, with S&P BSE Sensex gaining 608 points from the day’s low while Nifty50 gained 179 points. 

Quite a bit happened in the fashion space. Falguni Nayyar-led Nykaa acquired GLOOT, an athleisure brand for men, while Reliance Retail announced a long-term partnership to bring the US fashion brand Gap to India. 

Oh, and happy World Chocolate Day! Treat yo’selves. 


Pride after June: Mental health and inclusion

Is ‘queering the workplace’ a distant dream, a work in progress, or the corporate conversation checklist that peaks during Pride month before it stops ‘trending’ and #Pride loses its ‘viral’ steam? Or is it now woven into the DNA of progressive brand culture?  

Every June, rainbow capitalism raises its head and paints billboards and social media pages. Out-and-proud celebrities, rights activists, authors, lawyers, and corporate leaders are invited to talk. Allies cheer loud. It’s inclusion inside out. 

But in other times, the marginalisation of gender and sexual minorities has historically operated by silencing their voices and invisibilsing them in the formal economy. 

Pride beyond June:

  • For workplaces to be pro-LGBTQIA+ individuals, it is paramount to understand intersectional identity challenges—an area that Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) corporate chiefs are reluctant to acknowledge. 
  • Stakeholders at organisations need to acknowledge that everyday lived experiences and struggles, including discrimination at home and the workplace, of LGBTQIA+ individuals are vastly different. 
  • In his book Queeristan: Inclusion of LGBTQ in the Indian Workplace, author, LGBTQIA+ rights advocate, and out-and-proud gay man Parmesh Shahani describes inclusivity as making good business sense because it fosters creativity.

Inclusion is also not a magic pill.

“Apart from the inherent biases cis-het stakeholders come with, the biggest challenge is to help them understand that there's no one-size-fits-all approach to making the workplace a safe space,” said Shweta Srinivasan, therapist and Co-founder of TheMindClan.com.


On-demand storage

Hauling his luggage across Mumbai during a business trip pushed Manish Agarwal, a New Delhi-based chartered accountant, to build a startup that provides affordable “cloakrooms”. 

Manish began working on the idea with former colleagues from Indiamart, Mukesh Goel and Vidyanand Tripathi. They onboarded a mutual friend, Alok Goel, to handle the technical aspects of the platform.

Launched in 2019, Lugsto is a mobile and website-based platform that helps travellers find safe and affordable “cloakrooms” to stow luggage for a few hours or days. 

The New Delhi-headquartered startup has a network of 160 storage spaces across 40 cities, including Tier I cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, and Tier II and Tier III cities like Guwahati, Indore, and Lucknow. 

No more baggage:

  • The bootstrapped startup does not own any facility; it ties up with hotels, shops, and offices that offer stowage in exchange for a commission that ranges from 30 to 50 percent, depending on the accessibility of the location.
  • Lugsto provides cloakroom-like facilities for all travellers, irrespective of the mode of travel. 
  • Charges are based on the number of bags and the number of days the service is required. Prices typically range between Rs 40 and Rs 150 per bag per night. 

Shirin Products: With love from Manipur

A training programme on food processing in 2015 changed the course of Yangmila Zimik’s life. Soon after the workshop, the single mother felt encouraged to start a small-scale venture. She spent Rs 500 to buy gooseberry and sugar, made the candies, packaged them in small batches and began selling them to local shops.

Seven years later, the proud owner of her own food label Shirin Products, Yangmila employs six local women and earns anywhere between Rs 70,000 and Rs 80,000 a month. 

All 35 of Shirin Products’ food items are organic and include things like pickles, candies, squash, cakes, etc. “You must try the guava green tea, it is supremely healthy and flavoursome,” she tells HerStory, when asked about some of her unique products.

Sweet success:

  • Yangmila has won the Assam Women Entrepreneurs’ Award for being an impactful entrepreneur in the rural category
  • The entrepreneur has received a grant of Rs 1,20,000 from the German non-profit organisation GIZ.
  •  She has also benefitted from Rang De, a peer-to-peer lending platform championing microcredit access for rural India, through which she has been able to borrow Rs 2 lakh. 

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