On the third anniversary of the Supreme Court verdict that struck down Section 377, a law that criminalised homosexuality, Axis Bank recently announced a slew of inclusive measures for its LGBTQIA+ staff and customers.
Under its campaign ‘Come As You Are’, the lender on September 6 released a charter of policies and practices that “embrace diversity, equity and inclusion”.
Effective September 20, individuals belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community will be able to open a joint savings bank account or a term deposit with their same-sex partner. The bank will also let customers make their same-sex partner a nominee in their savings or term deposit account, it said in a press release.
For gender non-binary, gender fluid or transgender persons, the bank will offer the option of choosing ‘Mx’ as their title in their accounts.
In an interview to Outlook Money, Prof Manabi Bandyopadhyay, India’s first transgender principal at a government college in West Bengal, had earlier highlighted how she had to struggle even while trying to open a bank account because of her gender status. “Transgenders have always been deprived from most economic benefits. Little has changed even today. The visibility of transgender people should be increased,” Bandyopadhyay had said.
As for its employees, the Mumbai-headquartered bank will let them list their partners for Mediclaim benefits irrespective of gender, sex or marital status. The lender has also said that its employees can choose to dress as well as use restrooms in accordance with their gender or gender expression. We have initiated all-gender restrooms at our large offices, it added.
In case of issues faced by employees that belong to the community, the bank said it has a “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policy and a Human Rights Policy” that would offer redressal.
“At Axis, we have put our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion that respects and recognizes 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. It is our belief that it fosters a culture of innovation and leverages the multiple talent pools that exist in a rich demography like ours,” said Rajesh Dahiya, Executive Director, Axis Bank, adding that the ‘diversity & inclusion’ agenda has been a “strategic focus” in the bank’s wider Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) aligned commitments.