Why Indian companies’ efforts at improving diversity are falling short


A 2019 study looked at the caste composition of 4,005 corporate boards and 34,772 board members in India. It found that 94% of corporate directors, and the same percentage of company CEOs, were from “forward castes”, though these castes represent less than 20% of Indian society.

For Dalit Bahujan Adivasi professionals, such a skew means that corporate culture typically does not take their needs into account. In recent years, diversity, equity and inclusion professionals, or DEI professionals, have been seeking to make workplaces more inclusive. But as Nolina Minj found, speaking to several of these professionals and DBA individuals, such efforts do little to address marginalisation due to caste and religion.

“Considering how anti-caste groups have been demanding reservations in the Indian private sector, it was disconcerting to find out how the implementation of DEI has largely ignored caste and religion,” Minj said. "With increasing privatisation in India, obtaining a government job has become harder, leading to more Dalit and Adivasi professionals looking to enter the private sector. The failure to include caste in inclusion practices is equivalent to alienating a large percentage of the country’s workforce."

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Ajay Krishnan,
Senior Editor

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