The conference urges US companies to address caste-based discrimination at the level of policy and best practices and to be vigilant in relation to caste discrimination among their employees.
When the Cisco caste discrimination case was reported on June 30, 2020, Ambedkar King Study Circle immediately responded that caste is widely practiced by many Indians in the United States. It is to be expected that such practices and attitudes also extend to workplaces. On July 13, 2020, 15 civil rights organizations from the US and close to 1000 individuals signed and sent a statement that urged major companies in the US to address the phenomenon of caste discrimination at the policy level.
Companies should be mindful of the fact that caste practices often manifest around the celebration of rituals, festivals, social events, and food sharing among employees. Companies must ensure that all types of food are made available, including a variety of meats (halal or non-halal) as well as non-meat and vegetarian options. Companies should also refrain from celebrating festivals that are specific to only some caste communities and traditions. Instead, management should consult with a cross-section of employees in order to promote celebrations and social events that are inclusive and open to people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and preferences. Policy-level protections and procedures for best practices are the only means to protect employees from caste discrimination.
The conference appreciates Apple Inc for prohibiting caste-based discrimination.
On 16th Aug 2022, the media widely reported that Apple had updated its general employment conduct policy in September 2020 to include the prohibition of caste-based discrimination. This conference acknowledges the policy update as ground-breaking. We appreciate Apple being the first US employer to include caste-based discrimination in a major policy document. However, it is surprising that most Apple employees were not made aware of this policy update and equally surprising that there was no press release from Apple at the time of the policy update in 2020. If the news had been made available by an Apple press release or media report at the time, it would have enabled the entire industry to follow in Apple’s footsteps.