Industry Initiative for Affirmative action

We have often lamented about the lack of growth engines for our marginalized sections of our society. To ensure that the have not’s of the society get equal opportunities the CII-Assocham task force on affirmative action has spelt out a draft code for companies. It will progressively come into action from September 2006.

According to the code, every company will have a written policy statement on affirmative action in the workplace and a policy to maintain records of such action. There will be a senior executive accountable to the CEO to oversee and promote its affirmative action policies and programmes and also present a biannual report to the board of the company.

To encourage applications from socially disadvantaged sections of society, the draft code directs companies to post their employment policies in the public domain and place employment opportunities on their websites. In its bid to scale up education and employability among the backward sections of the society, the draft asks companies to partner educational institutions and support students from socially disadvantaged sections. It also directs companies to make efforts for up-skilling and continual training of employees from the socially disadvantaged sections in order to enhance their capabilities and competitive skills.

In order to prevent discrimination in any form, the draft says the company’s selection of business partners should not be based on any consideration other than normal business parameters. In case of equal business offers, the draft specifies, the company will select a business partner from a socially disadvantaged section.

To further propagate that inclusive growth is a component of development, the draft says the companies should make available their “learning and experience as a good corporate citizen in affirmative action to other companies desiring to incorporate such policies in their own business.” The initiatives, voluntary and self-regulated, will be compiled annually as success stories and innovative business models in affirmative action.

Meanwhile, the CII and Assocham have spelt out the steps that they will take independently for inclusive development. Whereas the CII would increase partnership with Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) and encourage BYST’s entrepreneurship development programme for youth from targeted community and
also encourage developmental programmes such as Rural Business Hubs, Young Indians, Bihar Project and others to include more representatives from targeted communities, Assocham would train entrepreneurs from targeted communities at district industry centres in association with local industries.

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