In sync with societal changes, the move has been triggered by the fact that 60% of the 3,500-strong multi-generational workforce of Mondelez India are millennials. The company’s HR director Mahalakshmi R told TOI, “The policy has its genesis in our employee listening forums, where such queries were raised. Studies show that there is a growing acceptance of live-in relationships in society. A lot of people do not want to get married early in life and prefer to go in for live-in relations. We want to pivot our policies in a manner that’s meaningful to our diversity and inclusion agenda.”
Earlier this year, the maker of Cadbury chocolates, Oreo biscuits and Bournvita health drink had extended the group mediclaim benefits to same-sex partners. Among other organisations that have extended medical policy to cover live-in partners are KPMG India and Citibank. Citibank extended its family health insurance coverage and relocation expenses in India to all “domestic partners”, including live-in partners and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) partners. KPMG too made fair amount of adjustments in the insurance cover by extending ‘spouse’ references to include ‘partner’ and clearly stated that this may include partners of the same or opposite sex or live-in partner.
Capstone People Consulting founder & CEO Sujaya Banerjee said changing relationship dynamics and lifestyles of millennials is compelling employers to engage with new realities of live-in partners instead of spouses and also same-sex partners in many cases.
“While some progressive MNCs, banks and IT/ITeS companies have policies governing this, the offer to cover unmarried or same-sex partners as part of medical insurance or re-location policies is a positive indicator of both acceptance and inclusion. In a global and interconnected world, several lifestyle and personal choices are being re-visited by the growing millennial population, who want to work with progressive employers who understand these changing trends and are pragmatic enough to address real emerging situations with real solutions,” said Banerjee.
Several organisations are drafting policies around millennials who also form a large consumer base. “Diversity and inclusion are the core business imperatives for us. We have already made progress on the gender diversity front with 33% of women in the leadership team and we are way ahead of the market with more than 35% of women in the next levels. While working on policies, we ensure we’re an equal opportunity workplace for all genders,” said Mahalakshmi.
On the other hand, there are Gen Xers who look for companionship through live-ins. Such policies, said Mahalakshmi, would benefit all.