United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and NACDOR bring the business community together to discuss ways of bringing dalits and other tribal communities into the private sector.
“There’s a wide gap between what the business leaders say and what the business actually does for the deprived communities” says Dr. Serge Younes, Senior Principal, Accenture, India, addressing a round table conference on “Role on Affirmative Action through Corporate Action: Role of Corporate in Inclusive Growth”.
The conference was a joint initiative by Global Compact Network India, a UN agency and National Confederation of Dalit Organizations (NACDOR). The round table focused on issues like improving inclusion of dalit and tribal communities in the private sector and ways to build a mutually beneficial environment for both business as well as the SC/ST communities. The event proved to be a significant milestone in this direction by bringing together business heads like Ajay Kumar, Tata Affirmative Action Programme and Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee, DG and CEO, IICA.
The event was a big step towards taking affirmative action as a crucial instrument of inclusiveness as it weaved a platform that not just focuses on profitability, but on business responsibilities as well. “Business responsibilities should go hand in hand with profits” said Pooran Chandra Pandey, Executive Director, Global Compact Network , India. Intangible things like goodwill and empathy are equally important, he added. The conference talked about the needed for concerted action which has the coming together of labour unions, civil organizations and institutions. Pandey also stressed on the need to create voluntary and self-regulatory affirmative action among the private sector for the upliftment of under-privileged communities who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Dr. Younes touched upon the old paradigm of profit vs social responsibility of a business, by talking about the ‘Framework Enigma’. He outlined a three-step process on how being responsible in business can actually benefit business themselves. Dr. Younes went on to explain this by saying, “Business companies can also derive benefits from it like creating access to new revenues, building opportunities to launch new products and consequently creating new scalabilities”.
Dalits form around 16 per cent of India’s population, out of which less than half are in jobs that matter. Most dalits work in agriculture or work in menial jobs. Despite much government brouhaha over reservation in the private sector for the community, many dalits still lack good employment opportunities. Collaborations such as these go a long way in creating avenues of progress for the dalit and tribal communities in India.