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"Everyone should be able to care for those they love," says the agency.

This Indian agency is the first to update its insurance policy that includes same-sex couples and live-in partners

"Everyone should be able to care for those they love," says the agency.
  • Due to lack of insurance coverage, LGBTQIA+ community needs to have a higher rate of savings to prepare for medical emergencies or even for planning to adopt a pet.
  • DDB Mudra Group has taken a step in the right direction to empower its queer employees who otherwise lack basic financial rights in our country.
With the abolition of article 377 that decriminalised homosexuality, our country has come a long way. However, LGBTQIA+ community still has to fight for basic social rights and financial planning needs.

From hunting for a perfect apartment where they don’t get an eviction notice in the first month of moving in with their partner to dealing with social prejudices, the queer community also has to navigate through a financial ecosystem that doesn’t back them up at all. They need to have a higher rate of savings to prepare for medical emergencies or even for planning to adopt a pet.

While several companies now offer insurance coverage for gender-reassignment surgery, DDB Mudra Group is the first agency network in India to cover same-sex couples and unmarried partners who live together under its insurance policy.

Married hetreosexual couples in India live stress-free because they are covered with their spouses’ family-floater health policy. So with its latest move, DDB Mudra Group aims to modify the definition of ‘family.’ It is also an honest attempt at building an inclusive workplace for its employees.

“Everyone should be able to care for those they love,” read its caption.

To bring about this change, the HR team at DDB Mudra Group had to stay patient and push themselves as the process took an entire year. Rita Verma, Executive Vice President & Head HR, DDB Mudra Group said that it was worth the wait.

She said, “Today, I’m very proud to say that our medical insurance covers our people’s partners - same-sex, hetro, live-in or married. This entitlement of medical benefits from only the spouse to anyone you love is monumental. To drive this change internally and with our insurance partners required unwavering commitment. The entire process took almost a year, but it was so worth it. Change doesn't happen overnight, and as a Group, we will continue to push ourselves to shed any unconscious bias in the work environment, every single day.”

Talking about DDB’s work culture in India, Verma added, “At DDB, the “Freedom to Be” is a deeply held value. When our employees feel they have to hide or mask a key part of themselves at work because they feel unsure, unsafe, or invisible; it can take a toll on motivation, engagement, and (ultimately) employee retention and turnover rates. Over the years, we have worked towards helping each person feel free, valued and respected no matter who they are, how they choose to live and who they choose to love. And a way to create an immediate impact, is through the company benefits that employees receive for them and their loved ones.”

Lack of basic financial rights for same-sex partners in India

There are over a gazillion financial, social and legal benefits a marriage license offers to a hetreosexual couple in India, like the ability to inherit spouse's assets, nominate one's spouse as a partner-in-life in insurance schemes, share a lease legally, get medical insurance together or open a joint bank account, but gay couples can't rely on their marital status for financial protection. It is time we give them the 'right to companionship' instead -- to help them be financially secure.

Talking about how workplaces can drive socio-economic change in our country by pushing themselves a little, Amit Kekre, National Strategy Head, DDB Mudra Group, said, “Because of same-sex relationships not being legal in most parts of India, they struggle on the issue of basic financial rights, such as partner insurance, property co-ownership, joint loan applications for instance. But that’s not just where the buck stops. They even face issues on small little things, like being able to rent or buy houses for instance. Although, the issue is not just a legal one. As a matter of fact, some states in India have begun to legalise same sex relationships. But the problem is larger -- its a socio-cultural issue, one which corporates can make a huge impact on by institutionalising policies that normalise same sex relationships.”

Here is hoping that more agencies and brands follow DDB Mudra Group’s lead.