The Race to Equality: Where's the Finish Line?

Ganesh Ram SharmaToday's guest blog comes from Ganesh Ram Sharma. He is the Global Biosafety Officer for Lilly. Ganesh joined the company in 2000 and is Chair of the Lilly PRIDE employee resource group.

If you’ve watched the news lately, it is filled with matters of violence and political divisiveness. With that comes an array of comments and opinions on social media. Many seem to fuel the fire of intolerance and ignorance instead of taking a moment, as people, to understand our differences so that we no longer fear them and they no longer divide us.

This makes me all the more thankful that I was given an opportunity, along with 23 colleagues, to attend the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Dallas in October. Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) professionals and workplace allies gathered to share strategies and best practices in promoting workplace equality. I returned knowing that Lilly's efforts to be inclusive and welcoming are on the right track. That keeps us relevant when seeking the best talent to work here.


It’s not just the summit that proves Lilly's commitment to diversity. Since 2006 and again this week, Lilly has scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees. This designation is well known and reflects the work Lilly has done for over a decade to establish non-discrimination protections and inclusive benefits and practices. This is a place that welcomes, values and respects LGBT employees.

In 2006, Indiana was quite a different state. I likely would have laughed at any notion that, in 10 years, the state would make same-sex marriage legal before the entire country did, and that the Circle City IN Pride Parade in June would be larger than the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade three weeks earlier.

Our community has come so far, but the work involving LGBT rights is not finished. A worker in Indiana can still be fired because of an LGBT identity. Just recently, Lilly became a founding partner in Indiana Competes, a business coalition dedicated to Indiana's economic growth by ensuring that persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities are treated fairly and equally under the law. Many statewide organizations are joining Lilly to support updates to Indiana’s civil rights laws so that all citizens—regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, disability and now sexual orientation, gender identity and expression—cannot be discriminated against here.

It’s not only the right thing to do; it makes economic sense. With a united voice, employers of all sizes will play a crucial role in protecting our state’s reputation as a premier place to do business.

Now here's why I think equality is a relay race: Looking at what's been accomplished this year, no one can do it alone. It truly takes a village—such as an awesome PRIDE employee resource group—to pass the baton time and again. As we close out 2015, Lilly continues to do the right thing to bring the best through its doors. That will continue through 2016 and beyond.

How do we know where the finish line is?  When do we say we have done enough? I think that until each one of us can recognize ourselves in those who are not like you and me, our work toward equality is not done.


Did you notice a new name at the top of this post? LillyPad is proud to partner with a variety of guest bloggers from around the world, and we're committed to hosting a range of viewpoints on our site. However, please note that the views contained in this post belong to its author and are not necessarily endorsed by Lilly.