Sunday, August 8, 2010

[ZESTCaste] 55 pvt companies to disclose staff’s caste in annual reports next year

55 pvt companies to disclose staff's caste in annual reports next year

P. Vaidyanathan Iyer

Posted online: Sun Aug 08 2010, 09:11 hrs
New Delhi : In its first demonstration of "affirmative action", 55 of
Corporate India's top 1,000 companies have decided to make "caste
disclosures" of their workforce in their annual reports next financial
year. Led by almost all companies of the $70.8 billion Tata Group, the
select and progressive list of 55 includes Mahindra & Mahindra and
Godrej Industries from the Western region.
These companies — mostly in the manufacturing sector — are part of a
larger list of 696 companies that are signatory to the Confederation
of Indian Industry's Code of Conduct on Affirmative Action that was
finalised in 2007. While the code that CII circulated to over 3,000
companies does not require them to disclose their workforce's caste
make-up, signatories cannot support discrimination. In fact, they are
expected to encourage applications from socially disadvantaged

Another industry body, Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham) too
has a similar code with 277 direct members having signed up. The
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has its
own code. While many of its members are yet to react, some of its
members have agreed to comply, said a Ficci executive.

Some of the 55 companies that have decided to make caste disclosures
include: Tata Motors, Godrej Industries, M&M, Crompton Greaves,
Wartsila, Ballarpur Industries, Kinetic, Godrej Boyce and Praj
Industries in the Western region; Pricol, Geojit Financial Services,
Lakeshore Hospitals and NTTF Industries in the Southern region; Usha
Martin, Tata Ryerson, Tata.

55 pvt companies to disclose staff's caste in annual reports next year
Steel, Jusco and Tinplate Company India in the Eastern region; and Max
India, JCB India, NDPL and HLS Asia in Northern region.

Conspicuous by its absence in the list is the services sector. When
contacted, T V Mohandas Pai, Director, Human Resources, Education,
Research and Administration, Infosys Technologies Ltd, said, "We don't
ask people their caste. Ours is a white-collar labour force. Ours is
an industry where there are more jobs than people and we do not
discriminate in whatever we do."

Infosys is a signatory to the CII code, but doesn't plan to ask its
employees their caste. Pai said the company did run a large programme
for 500 individuals from the disadvantaged section, many of whom got
high quality jobs.

While most of Tata Group's manufacturing companies are in the select
list of 55, its IT company, Tata Consultancy Services and telecom
operator, Tata Tele-Services Ltd, are absent.

"It is sensitive to ask an employee his/ her caste. This is a big
problem even if companies have to collate such data," said the CEO of
a big Mumbai-headquartered company. It is not just this CEO, many
others too face a similar predicament. When asked if chambers can
really do something about it, a CII executive said the Tatas are
willing to share their experiences of such an exercise they conducted
across their group companies.

Rahul Bajaj's Bajaj Auto, one of the biggest manufacturing groups in
the Western region, is also not part of the list of 55. When
contacted, Rahul Bajaj said, "We have such information, but there are
no reasons to disclose them. My shareholders are not interested. If
the government wants, we will be happy to publish it." While Bajaj
admitted that the corporate sector has not done enough for the
disadvantaged sections, he hoped that the government does not make
"affirmative action" mandatory.


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