SHOBHA PANDEY: HELPING LEAD CHANGE FOR LGBTQ EMPLOYEES IN INDIA

Pandey wins global Out and Equal's 2021 Ally Changemaker award

Leading change and building a more inclusive culture is not always easy, especially in countries where laws and public opinion are slowly changing.

A photo of Shobha Pandey
Shobha Pandey

But for Shobha Pandey, leading change meant that employees be their true selves at work and removing obstacles that might prevent them from achieving their higher purpose.

Pandey was instrumental with the recent launch of the India chapter of Rainbow ERG, an Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ employees and allies.

To further enhance the region's strategy with inclusion efforts, Pandey also established a dedicated, cross-functional team in India to move the needle internally. The group, called "Mitr", which translates to "friends" in English, also focuses on practices and policies to attract and retain more 'persons with disabilities' (PWD) to John Deere.

"Diversity could not be inclusive to just one section, or group of people, and that led to us expanding beyond gender to LGBTQ and people with disabilities," Pandey explained.

Last month, the group created a video to spread awareness about the Rainbow ERG and its commitment to workplace inclusion. The video coincided with the Apex Court of India's landmark judgment that decriminalized same-sex relationships in India.

"This judgment is a step towards creating an equal and inclusive society for all," said Satya Mirkale, Region 1 Rainbow ERG Champion. "The time is ripe to make real change. As an equal opportunity employer, we continue our commitment to becoming more LGBTQIA+ inclusive."

As John Deere's Regional Talent Management Leader for India, China, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Pandey has led diversity, equity and inclusion training across the region. LGBTQ equality has been one of the key diversity efforts she's led.

While building the membership of the new ERG has had its challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more employees working virtually, Pandey said many employees have been supportive. The group, which continues to grow, now has over 75 members.

Pandey said receiving recognition from Out and Equal has inspired her to work even harder to grow diversity, equity and inclusion at John Deere.

"It means a lot to receive this award on behalf of our high-performance team of leaders and volunteers, who are tirelessly working to make the ERGs a success and help diversity thrive," Pandey said. "Personally, for me, in Robert Frost's words, 'Woods are lovely dark and deep, I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.'"