At least 150 companies, including some from the Tata Group, have started collecting data about their SC/ST employees, as India Inc is no more "caste blind", according to a CII paper on affirmative action.
"CII's sponsored Code of Conduct for affirmative action, which commits the company to no discrimination in its employment policies, has been signed by 690 companies of which 150 have started collecting data on SC/ST employees," the paper said.
It said that the Tata firms have committed themselves to a policy of positive discrimination whereby they will "actively favour" SC/ST candidates for employment. "We are convinced that we need to play a pro-active role in inclusive growth which is in the industry's interest itself," CII president Hari S Bhartia said.
In his interaction with top industry leaders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked them to reach out to the rural economy and the underprevileged sections of the society through affirmative action.
Tata Group companies like Tata Teleservices and New Delhi Power Limited favour SC/ST candidates in their recruitment, provided they meet competency threshold and "more importantly show the desire to learn", the CII compendium on affirmative action said.
It said while the private sector was "caste blind" till early 2007, the industry responded to the Prime Minsiter's call for a positive discrimination through the SC/ST communities in their HR policies and business processes.
The chamber which had set up a Council on Affirmative Action under chairmanship of Jamshed J Irani is pursuing the agenda under four major initiatives: Employability, Entrepreneurship, Education and Employment.
It said the initiatives "have made a difference to the lives of over 37,435 SC/ST youth in all regions of country. "We wanted to show measurable results," Bhartia Said. The companies which are involved the vocational training programmes for underprivileged include Infosys, Thermax, HSBC, Mahindra and Mahindra, Crompton Greaves, Cummins India, Godrej and Boyce, Forbes Marshall and Hero Group.
In terms of job preferences, Bannari Amman Apparel has employed only members of backward class in its weaving unit in Kanchipuram district in Tamil Nadu. Of the 1,300 socially disadvantaged women employed with the company, 65 per cent belong to SC/ST communities.