Axis Bank said the initiative is a part of its commitment to help promote implement diversity, equity and inclusion.
On September 6, Axis Bank announced inclusive practices and policies for its employees and customers from the LGBTQIA+ community. The new policy comes on the third anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality by the Supreme Court.
Come As You Are
Axis Bank launched a campaign on the historic day that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. The ‘Come As You Are’ campaign is a part of the private lender’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments.
In the spirit of the supreme court’s judgement, “the bank’s wider ESG aligned commitments, it has initiated of #ComeAsYouAre – a charter of policies and practices that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion within the organization and for its customers,” Axis Bank said in a release.
New Rules Under the Policy
Effective September 20, the LGBTQIA community can open join savings accounts in Axis Bank with their same-sex partner. It will allow customers and employees to name their partners as their nominees irrespective of gender, sex, caste and marital status.
Employees can now dress according to their gender expression, rather than mandatory dress code according to sex assigned at birth. They can use the restroom according to their gender expression.
For gender fluid, non-binary, and transgender persons, the bank offers the option of choosing ‘Mx’ as the title in their accounts.
Same-sex partners have long struggled to open joint bank accounts despite no such restriction placed by RBI. Axis Bank’s new policy aims to remove this restriction, welcoming same-sex partners to open joint accounts.
Why Are These Changes Necessary?
Scrapping of section 377 was just the first step towards a move inclusive society. LGBTQIA exclusion runs at an institutional level. Multiple barriers are preventing them from accessing services that others take for granted. Access to financial services is just one such barrier.
Professor Manabi Bandyopadhyay, India’s first transgender principal, serving in a government college in West Bengal, has spoken about her struggles to open a bank account.
Decriminalizing homosexuality on a superficial level seems to have solved all the problems. However, without legalizing same-sex marriages, the LGBTQ community is deprived of the legal safeguards that heterosexual marriages enjoy.
The couple cannot list their partner as a nominee in legal and financial documents, except Axis bank.
In most public places, people must use bathrooms based on their birth gender and not their gender expression.
Other than recognizing a ‘third gender’, most forms do not provide the option for specifying Gender Fluid or non-binary, among other things in the gender category.
We are taking steps toward an inclusive society, but we have a long way to go. Being the third-largest private lender in Indian Markets, Axis Bank taking the necessary steps to correct the biases sets a precedent for others to follow suit.