We are proud to have made Gender Neutral Restrooms a reality @Mphasis across India.
We put the COVID 19 pandemic situation to real good use. While almost all our employees are working from home, we took the opportunity to make civil and minor structural changes to our facilities by creating Gender Neutral Restrooms.
The reason why we wanted to institutionalize this was not to cut, or to equalize waiting time as we have ample restrooms across our facilities and do not suffer from that issue. However, what we wanted to do instead was to create a safe, more usable space for Transgender employees and employees who have special needs who might find segregated facilities uncomfortable. We wanted to alleviate anything that can create feelings of awkwardness and alienation with our employees. While many trans people may be comfortable with or prefer to use a segregated restroom that correlates with their gender identity and presentation (and this is an important right that should be upheld) others may feel safer or more comfortable in a single-user unisex/gender neutral designated space. For trans people who have a fear of gender policing that could happen in sex-designated spaces, not having to navigate this while using the facilities can be a big relief.
However, if a gender-neutral restroom is to work effectively, it must be properly designed for all users, and it must also meet all the appropriate requirements. Employees with special needs do require adequate space to maneuver their wheelchair or walking stick or any other aid they use. We worked with our Admin teams across the country to ensure we follow the same standards across and that we take note of the diverse user needs. We have made sure that moving forward this will be a critical part of the new building / facility design. Currently we have one Gender Neutral restroom per floor per facility. In all we have 49 washrooms across Mphasis in India modified for this requirement.
We debated and tided over many aspects such as a gender-neutral restroom can have an element of it being a potential unsafe space for women. Also, amongst some traditional minded people, using a gender-neutral restroom might cause feelings of embarrassment. So, we have kept these restrooms exclusive and available on every floor distinct from the regular women’s and men’s restrooms.
We are also mindful of the fact that with our unisex/ gender neutral layout we could face criticism from people with strong convictions that prevent them from sharing toilet facilities with people of the opposite sex. Functionally, there is no difference between the facilities required in male or female restrooms, so gender neutral/ unisex restrooms present no special challenges. The most important requirements are to ensure that those facilities promote good hygiene and that they are easily usable and accessible. We have padded up the house keeping staff and have special duties assigned to ensure utmost hygiene is maintained.
The reality is that gender neutral/ unisex restrooms are a still-emerging trend, and in some respects, regulatory outlines have yet to catch up.
The presence of gender-neutral restrooms in our facilities can help set the tone for an inclusive, welcoming environment which is free of discrimination and promotes humanity beyond our employees sexual orientation. Sincerely hope that this becomes viral and commonplace soon at least to begin with in Corporate India.
SVP & Global HR Head