India Inc has begun a quiet headcount to determine the caste origins of people presently in the corporate sector. It has also taking steps to help people from the targeted communities -- scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) -- enhance their capabilities through entrepreneurship development and skill enhancement programmes.
The move is part of the voluntary "affirmative action" plan submitted jointly by two apex chambers -- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) -- in July this year.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday constituted a committee to identify "concrete steps" to be taken to ensure that the private sector fulfils the aspirations of SCs and STs.
A leading industrialist and a member of the CII-Assocham joint task force on affirmative action, who did not wish to be named said: "Mailers have been sent out to all the members of the industry associations to conduct an internal audit to determine the caste configuration of their existing workforce."
An internal audit conducted by Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL) showed that on March 31, 12 per cent of the company's employees were SCs, while another seven per cent were STs.
Explaining the fairly sizeable number, an informed source in HLL said the company's policy was to hire its lower level staff through local employment exchanges, although the candidates were required to take the tests conducted by the company to qualify.
Assocham Secretary General DS Rawat said that most Assocham's members have completed their human resource audit. "The results are being kept secret for obvious reasons. The human resource department of these organisations will use this database to provide more opportunities to persons belonging to targetted communities in the coming recruitment season," he said.
Assocham has identified 11 tribal districts in Gujarat where it will provide "entrepreneurship training" to 1,000 individuals over the next 12 months. These are Sabarkantha, Dahod, Godhara, Vadodara, Narmada, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, Valsad, Ahwa and Palanpur districts.
The chamber has also written to Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar and to the Minorities Commission to provide a list of persons belonging to targetted communities for providing training in entrepreneurship and skill enhancement.
Both, the CII and Assocham have drafted a "code of conduct" for its members to "promote inclusiveness of SC/ST employees" in their respective organisations.
The code of conduct also seeks a commitment from their members that they would "abide by the terms of reference or stipulations submitted to the Prime Minister in July this year".