Some of America’s largest technology companies are taking decisive action to combat India’s age-old caste system.
Casteism is a system in which society is divided into classes or castes based on differences in inherited rank, wealth, occupation or race. In Hinduism in India, castes are strictly observed, social classes based exclusively on heredity. Members of each caste are restricted in their profession and their association with other castes.
To eliminate caste-induced segregation, Apple updated its general employee conduct policy about two years ago, which prohibit discrimination based on caste, race, religion, gender, age, and ancestry.
The U.S. tech sector became aware of caste-induced segregation in June 2020, when California’s employment regulator sued Cisco Systems on behalf of a low-caste engineer who accused two higher-caste bosses of blocking his career.
The dispute, which marks the first U.S. employment lawsuit about alleged casteism, allows major technology companies in the U.S. confront the social position of Indians based on family descent, from the top Brahmin “priestly” class to the Dalits, who are seen as “untouchables” and condemned to menial labor.
In addition to Apple, IBM also added caste which was already in India-specific policies, to its global discrimination rules following the Cisco lawsuit. The company said its only training that mentions caste is for managers in India.
However, many organizations face a dilemma regarding the situation, with some determined to eliminate the segregation while others think it is unnecessary to do so.
However, several companies have not yet made specific reference to caste in their key global policies, including Amazon, Dell, Facebook’s Meta, Microsoft and Google.
Companies that have not yet included caste in their global policies have stated that they have zero tolerance for caste prejudices and that such prejudices would fall under existing prohibitions on discrimination based on categories such as descent and national origin.
The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.