A few global tech companies have explicitly prohibited discrimination based on caste, originated from India, the country provides the most skilled foreign workers for tech industry. While caste-based discrimination has been generally prohibited in India, it might be beneficial for companies operating in India to consider include similar policies into their DEI initiatives.
Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Castes (OBC) represent all the underprivileged and economically backward castes in India. Discrimination against these underprivileged groups is largely addressed on a social level, for instance, government requires reserving seats for lower-caste students at top Indian universities and jobs in government agencies in recent years. OBC Bill 2021 was passed by India Parliament and this bill restores the power to the states to identify socially and educationally backward classes. Reservations are big political lever for political parties. Under SC ST Act any disparaging statements in general or to an individual even on social platform can face penalty.
However, caste-related issues haven’t been prioritized in the corporate space. Even though The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) published a voluntary Conduct on Affirmative Action that requires non-discrimination, assistance, and transparency with respect to employees, applicants and vendors from the SC and ST communities. A report shows that only 19% out of 17,788 Confederation member companies had adopted the Code. Even though it is not mandatory to disclose data related to disadvantaged caste representation or implement any affirmative action policy in private sector, it would be beneficial if companies can undertake some affirmative action’s outside of their business work under CSR activities for these castes as a responsible corporate citizen.