Profiles in Creating Possible: Bismay Mishra Advocates for Transgender Equity

Mar 18, 2020 1:00 PM ET
Blog

Educating people about gender identities and sexual orientation can be challenging to navigate in any setting – let alone at a company with employees from diverse backgrounds all over the world. But Bismay Mishra, Associate Director, Global Analytics & Insights at Gilead, believes he has found a good formula.

“There is strength in identifying how we are similar, and not how we differ,” says Bismay, who is the worldwide co-chair of Gilead’s Pride Alliance, an employee resource group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. “That helps bring people together. That’s the starting point, then you can talk about the differences and the things we may not understand or agree on.”

Gilead’s Pride Alliance partners with the company’s other ERGs to host forums and events that bring people of all backgrounds together to learn about issues affecting LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as other underrepresented communities.

Recently, Bismay and other Pride Alliance leaders have expanded their efforts to include meaningful and tangible changes in company policy and practice. For example, as issues of transgender rights were in the headlines, Bismay took a critical look at what Gilead was doing to support trans communities.

“Gilead was doing a lot externally to create awareness and education and end the stigma around transgender communities,” Bismay says. “Our Gilead colleagues were going into hospitals, clinics and healthcare organizations to educate people about the transgender community, which is one of the groups most disproportionately affected by HIV. However, we felt there was more we could do internally, for our own colleagues and peers.”

The Pride Alliance reviewed the company’s benefits offerings and noticed that, while they were competitive with other companies, there was room for improvement. Members of the Pride Alliance shared their perspectives and worked with the company’s Human Resources department to develop a robust, global benefits program for transgender employees – specifically, increasing the company’s support of transitioning employees.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Gilead and our HR team for being so willing to receive feedback and quickly implement changes – even beyond what we recommended,” says Bismay. “A lot of times when we think about the LGBTQ+ community we look to the government to develop legal resources and protections. But we forget that long-lasting impacts will only happen if we change minds.”

The efforts of the Pride Alliance are helping to create a culture in which employees feel comfortable bringing their full and authentic selves to work. Soon after a Pride Alliance event commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance, an employee who had just started at Gilead told Bismay she truly felt welcome and was comfortable being open about her gender identity – something with which she had difficulty in her previous workplace. Two weeks into her job, she was impressed with her surroundings and wanted to be open and participate in furthering the company’s inclusive culture.

And that, in the end, is the type of openness and acceptance Bismay and his colleagues want to enable at Gilead.

“To be out and visible and vocal takes a lot of effort and courage,” he says. “We want to maintain a space where people feel comfortable sharing whatever they want to share. That’s how we’re creating possible.”