“God’s Own Country” led the change for the whole Nation when it decided to absorb Transgenders into its workforce in the recently inaugurated Kochi Metro Rail Project. North to South, East to West all of us “educated” took our turns in taking pride in this context. However, did we look at the untold story behind the life of the chosen Transgenders?
A recent news report by a national daily said out of 21 transgenders who were employed in the Kochi Metro 8 of them quit their jobs in the first week owing to accommodation issues. Almost all of them are denied rental accommodation in the city for the very fact that they’re Transgenders. You see the irony, don’t you? This I call the great “Indian Hypocrisy”, where we don’t hesitate to take credit or boast on someone’s behalf the same instance when we deny our fellow citizens, rather human beings their basic rights. Having my roots in God’s Own Country, it disturbs me that a state which is so forward in thought process and literacy can also be in darkness.
I am not here to moral police the citizens of the state, however it is my job as a Human Resource professional to point out the flaws which have led to life coming to a full stop for the very same people whom we promised hope. What went wrong amidst the concrete, bricks, rails and coaches? The answer is simple, Strategy. The Planners and Executors didn’t take one simple variable— our hypocritical society, which is still far from sensitization and acceptance of the realities of life. This directly questions the compensation and benefits provided to the transgender workforce of the Kochi Metro. They’re paid ₹15,000 per month when their expenses due to their accommodation in lodges or motels work out to at least ₹18,000 per month. This brings me to question the employment of these Indian Citizens, are they really employed?
The government be it Central or State could have looked for the option of arranging accommodation for these employees taking into consideration their special needs. If cost had been the issue, there is still a solution. It is known for a fact that the government employees who have housing in their same cities prefer to stay in the office quarters as compared to their own houses, probably because they can earn a little more through renting their house out by staying in the office quarters. This additional income is not declared or made transparent thus leading to an increase in inflation, corruption and even a parallel economy. Why does somebody desire undisclosed additional income? Because they’re again not paid well enough by the Governments. The Government could have either built new accommodation facilities for its newly inducted transgender staff or issued an ordinance to the existing staff in service who’ve availed the office accommodation (when they’ve their own Housing assets) to vacate into one’s own flats/houses. This is under the assumption that every employee in the state/central government has declared their assets in the company records. This prevents not only the additional cost but also helps in creating an inclusive workplace culture which drives performance across all its operations only to increase the retention rate and simultaneously reduce the attrition rate. In terms of cost for the government, it clearly doesn’t have to invest even a single additional penny into the project.
Strategy and Operations don’t just apply to private organizations they also apply to government projects. The lesson learnt from this incident for an HR professional like myself would be “Inclusion minus Strategy and Long term thinking equals damage and damage control”. As someone wisely said, Prevention is better than Cure.