HERO Awards 2023: The Honourees

By September 29, 2023 November 28th, 2023 Regional, What We Do

Community Ally
Award Recipient

Anupama Easwaran

India

I am a proud Indian who has had the privilege of living in various cities in India due to my armed forces background. This has helped me develop deep appreciation for diverse cultures and perspectives, and value a culture of inclusion.

I am a business professional, wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, friend, volunteer, coach, practitioner of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism. Of all these roles, that of being a mother is my most memorable and cherished role even though this remains my most challenging one.

I am a fitness enthusiast and spend an hour every day in some form of exercise, with yoga, kick boxing and dance being my favourite forms of workout. I am enthusiastic to learn new things, have new experiences and explore new places. I deeply value human associations and derive my strength from interacting with diverse people.

“Life is beautiful” and “Live life to the fullest” are my life mottos. Being an optimist, I consciously look for possibilities in adverse situations.

Tell us about your work

I am an Executive Coach specialising in Diversity and Inclusion, a trained and experienced counsellor, and a Postgraduate in Management with 25 years of work experience in diversity and inclusion consulting, employee wellbeing, marketing and brand management. 

I am on the D&I council of several companies, a POSH expert and external member on the POSH Internal Committees of companies, a Maternity Transition consultant and coach, and a board member of TWEET Foundation, an NGO for and by transgender people.

In 2016, I founded InHarmony, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultancy, with the aim of creating equal and respectful spaces for all in society. The firm works extensively with various companies on creating an inclusive culture through sensitization programs, diagnostic studies, employee wellbeing initiatives, hiring minority represented groups, to name a few. InHarmony has served over 50 Indian & Multinational companies accomplish their diversity and inclusion objcetives.

I also work closely with the transgender community towards their upliftment and inclusion through skill development, generating employment and sensitizing society about the transgender people. My two TEDx Talks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCedy2FUTvI), (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26z76ii-CG0) have been about my journey as a transgender and LGBTQIA+ ally.

Early in 2022, my team and I concluded a one of its kind qualitative research on caste experiences in the private sector.

In March, 2023, in association with TWEET Foundation and the Government of India InHarmony conducted a national level job fair which helped over 75 candidates get employment in companies.

What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of? Why?

I am deeply committed to my goal of empowerment and inclusion of transgender people through skill development, employment and sensitizing society about transgender people. I consider this my Ikigai (purpose in life). Through my work I am slowly and steadily building a community of transgender allies in companies as well as in social spaces. Over 100 transgender people have secured jobs in inclusive companies through the national level trans employment fairthat I conducted in association with TWEET Foundation and the Government of India. I am humbly proud of my work thus far whilst being very conscious of the fact that the journey is long and I have a lot more to do.

What do you find most challenging about your work? Why?

Challenges are at multiple levels. Sensitizing cis-gendered people to be empathetic and unconditionally accepting is a difficult task. Most people are sympathetic and see transgender people as “others” and not a part of “us”.

I also find that many companies are still reluctant to offer job opportunities to transgender people and those who do, mostly offer junior level jobs without concrete career building plans and adequate sensitization of their employees and leadership.

The biggest challenge of all is the transgender people themselves. Due to varying degrees of mental, emotional health issues and gender dysphoria, many transgender people struggle to sustain in jobs or handle work pressure. I also find it very difficult to motivate ethnic groups like the Hijra community to shift to safer and more mainstream jobs.

What do you do to recharge your battery?

I practice Nichiren Daishinin’s Buddhism. My Buddhist practice helps me stay focused and optimistic. Besides this, my exercise routine, time with family and a moderately active social life helps me recharge my battery. Sometimes, all it takes is a nice romcom or going dancing to a club. When things get a little heavy, a trip outside the city or to my hometown helps.

What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

Someone taking credit for my hard work without acknowledging my efforts bothers me. I overcome it by bringing my focus back to the purpose of my work and what my life mission is. My Buddhist practice also helps me immensely.

You have been nominated for the Community Ally category.
What was your reaction and please, tell us why?

Needless to say, I am thrilled. It came as a pleasant surprise. It is matter of great honour to be recognised as a Community Ally. I see this nomination as a sign of acceptance by the community for whom I am committed to serve. This nomination also motivates me to continue with my work not just in India but in the Asia Pacific.

What is a warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific?

Life is beautiful. The rainbow shines bright.

Amidst the tapestry of cultures and landscapes of life, one truth remains constant: life is undeniably beautiful. 

Each day, we have the opportunity to witness the vibrant colors of hope, compassion, and unity that illuminate our communities. 

Life can be a radiant rainbow, reminding us of the boundless possibilities that lie ahead.

Together, as a diverse and resilient collective, we can weather any challenge and paint a future that shines even more brilliantly. 

So, let us continue to cherish the beauty of life,  nurture our connections, and together, illuminate the path toward a better, more hopeful tomorrow.

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