Most Indian Companies Do Not Value Diversity At Board-Level Hirings: Oxfam India

89 of the 99 firms studied do not have any recognition for board diversity, a new study shows.

(Source: Freepik)
(Source: Freepik)

Majority of the BSE-listed companies do not recognise the importance of diversity while making board-level appointments, according to a new study.

The findings were based on the India Responsible Business Index (IRBI) 2016, a collaborative effort by a group of not-for-profits — Oxfam India, Corporate Responsibility Watch, Praxis and Partners in Change — and measures the performance of the top 100 firms on BSE by market value under various heads, including social inclusion.

Among other things, the study showed 89 of the 99 companies that it covered do not have any recognition of diversity among its board of directors in their policy documents. The study defines diversity as talent hiring irrespective of caste, creed, gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

Only four companies had recognised its importance and had a system in place to ensure its implementation, while six companies had ‘mere recognition’ - indicating no policy framework or system in place to promote diversity at the workplace.

..‘diversity’ is reported only to the extent of women’s representation: the inclusion of some other disadvantaged groups does not appear to be systematically tracked.
Oxfam India Report on February 14

Gender diversity among board of directors has gained prominence, partly due to the push by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in 2014. The market regulator made it mandatory for all the listed companies to appoint at least one woman director on their board by March 31, 2015, in keeping with the mandate of the Companies Act, 2013.

It was found that around two thirds of the companies studied have recognised the importance of not discriminating against women (63), scheduled castes (62) and on the grounds of religion (62) or disability (58) during initial recruitment. Less common was an equivalent commitment to sexual minorities (36) and scheduled tribes (26). 
Oxfam India Report

A majority of companies covered under the study – 92 out of 99 – disclosed publicly the number of women on their boards while an even higher number (98) shared it among the workforce. Firms also made high levels of disclosure on representation of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) within the workforce but less than one quarter reported the number of staff from scheduled caste or scheduled tribe communities.

There are however, positive signs emerging from corporate India.

While it is encouraging to see more than 60 companies explicitly mentioning caste in their policy of non-discrimination at recruitment, a few private companies such as Godrej Consumer Products, Bajaj Auto and Tata Steel have stated proactive efforts to diversify their workforce by explicitly mentioning caste.
Tom Thomas, Chief Executive & Corporate Responsibility Watch Convenor, Praxis
Most Indian Companies Do Not Value Diversity At Board-Level Hirings: Oxfam India

To read the complete report, click here.