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Combat caste-based discrimination: IAAAC to US tech CEOs

Indian-American anti-caste group urges companies to include as a factor in training about diversity and inclusion

Sabrangindia 13 Aug 2020

Caste

The Indian American Alliance Against Caste (IAAAC), a coalition of the most prominent community-based organizations representing Dalits in the USA and other social justice organizations from the Indian diaspora, has in a letter to CEOs of 25 of the biggest tech firms in the US, urged for a proactive approach to addressing concerns related to caste-based discrimination.

The letter says, “Caste discrimination is as toxic and harmful as are race and gender-related discriminations. Neglecting it is tantamount to allowing your company to be a hostile workplace.”

IAAAC, in association with Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), a community organization based in California working on issues of social justice for Dalits, has documented caste-based discrimination which has long been an unacknowledged problem in the US. According to their findings, “In Silicon Valley, or in any company with a significant workforce from India, some form of active caste discrimination may allow staff from dominant castes to exercise unfair privilege over those from non-dominant castes.”

The letter refers to the recent case against Cisco saying, “On June 30, 2020, the California Fair Housing and Employment office filed a case against Cisco in the federal court in San Jose. This landmark case, filed on behalf of an employee of Cisco, charges his immediate supervisors with discrimination allegedly against him on the basis of his caste. The employee and supervisors are all of Indian origin - the former belonging to the Dalit community, considered to be lowest in the caste hierarchy, and the two supervisors belonging to castes accorded a higher status. This demonstrates the spread to the US workplace of the Indian caste system, whose graded hierarchy of caste ranges from Brahmins at the top to Dalits, formerly called untouchable, at the bottom.”

The group has proposed a two-pronged approach to address the problem of caste discrimination in the workspace:

1. Include “protection from caste-based discrimination” in the workplace harassment policy.

2. Name caste as a factor in your bias training, and in diversity, inclusion and recruitment efforts.

“We aim to transform the American workplace into a safer and more productive space through this campaign,” said a spokesperson for the coalition and Ambedkar International Mission USA (AIM USA), an IAAAC member.

Mr. Selvaraj, Speaking on behalf of the Ambedkar King Study Circle, a Silicon Valley based Dalit community organization said, “As per the testimonials that we are receiving, casteism is widespread within the Indian community in US. It is time that our employers take note of this since it negatively impacts workplace morale, trust and synergy.”

Dr. Yengde, of Harvard University commenting on the launch of the campaign said, “Caste is always one of the last things that is acknowledged. Many Indians of the dominant caste lot are ready to support social justice issues around racism, homophobia, but do not acknowledge the casteism in our midst for which they are responsible. ‘Indians for BLM’ is their barter to ‘Indians against Casteism’. We are determined to have American companies do the right thing.”

Recipients of the letter include Tim Cook (CEO Apple), Satya Nadella, (CEO Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (CEO Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC) and Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon) among others.

Related:

Christian groups demand justice for Dalit minorities

Dalit woman, son assaulted for refusing to pick up cow carcass in Gujarat

Thakurs deny Dalit woman cremation, police initiate probe

Combat caste-based discrimination: IAAAC to US tech CEOs

Indian-American anti-caste group urges companies to include as a factor in training about diversity and inclusion

Caste

The Indian American Alliance Against Caste (IAAAC), a coalition of the most prominent community-based organizations representing Dalits in the USA and other social justice organizations from the Indian diaspora, has in a letter to CEOs of 25 of the biggest tech firms in the US, urged for a proactive approach to addressing concerns related to caste-based discrimination.

The letter says, “Caste discrimination is as toxic and harmful as are race and gender-related discriminations. Neglecting it is tantamount to allowing your company to be a hostile workplace.”

IAAAC, in association with Ambedkar King Study Circle (AKSC), a community organization based in California working on issues of social justice for Dalits, has documented caste-based discrimination which has long been an unacknowledged problem in the US. According to their findings, “In Silicon Valley, or in any company with a significant workforce from India, some form of active caste discrimination may allow staff from dominant castes to exercise unfair privilege over those from non-dominant castes.”

The letter refers to the recent case against Cisco saying, “On June 30, 2020, the California Fair Housing and Employment office filed a case against Cisco in the federal court in San Jose. This landmark case, filed on behalf of an employee of Cisco, charges his immediate supervisors with discrimination allegedly against him on the basis of his caste. The employee and supervisors are all of Indian origin - the former belonging to the Dalit community, considered to be lowest in the caste hierarchy, and the two supervisors belonging to castes accorded a higher status. This demonstrates the spread to the US workplace of the Indian caste system, whose graded hierarchy of caste ranges from Brahmins at the top to Dalits, formerly called untouchable, at the bottom.”

The group has proposed a two-pronged approach to address the problem of caste discrimination in the workspace:

1. Include “protection from caste-based discrimination” in the workplace harassment policy.

2. Name caste as a factor in your bias training, and in diversity, inclusion and recruitment efforts.

“We aim to transform the American workplace into a safer and more productive space through this campaign,” said a spokesperson for the coalition and Ambedkar International Mission USA (AIM USA), an IAAAC member.

Mr. Selvaraj, Speaking on behalf of the Ambedkar King Study Circle, a Silicon Valley based Dalit community organization said, “As per the testimonials that we are receiving, casteism is widespread within the Indian community in US. It is time that our employers take note of this since it negatively impacts workplace morale, trust and synergy.”

Dr. Yengde, of Harvard University commenting on the launch of the campaign said, “Caste is always one of the last things that is acknowledged. Many Indians of the dominant caste lot are ready to support social justice issues around racism, homophobia, but do not acknowledge the casteism in our midst for which they are responsible. ‘Indians for BLM’ is their barter to ‘Indians against Casteism’. We are determined to have American companies do the right thing.”

Recipients of the letter include Tim Cook (CEO Apple), Satya Nadella, (CEO Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (CEO Alphabet Inc. and Google LLC) and Jeff Bezos (CEO Amazon) among others.

Related:

Christian groups demand justice for Dalit minorities

Dalit woman, son assaulted for refusing to pick up cow carcass in Gujarat

Thakurs deny Dalit woman cremation, police initiate probe

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