Over 70% of the businesses have either zero or less than 1% of employees who are persons with disabilities. This is truly shocking with growing awareness, development of assistive technology, changing workplaces and lip-service towards diversity staffing.
As the din of noise about business responsibility increases daily, as the corporate sector struggles with the general trust deficit among employees and consumers across, it is worrying to note that women and persons with disabilities continue to be under-represented at workplaces and corporate businesses.
This information is based on a just-released report “Status of Corporate Responsibility in India, 2019 – Is Human Rights in Business Limited to Rhetoric?” The report looked at 300 of the top 500 companies listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The data itself is drawn from disclosures that the companies have to make through Business Responsibility Reporting mandated from the top 100 to the top 500 companies listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange to improve disclosure standards and help shareholders make informed decisions.
The reporting has increased marginally (“not reported” has reduced from 43 companies to 36 companies). The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 states that every government establishment shall appoint not less than 4% of persons with disabilities. However, only three out of the 47 PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) that were part of this study had three or more per cent of employees with disabilities. Despite the presence of the Act, the increase in the number of PWDs among the workforce in the sample company over one year is negligible (0.006%).
The report noted that “About 53% of the businesses had a male to female ratio of 10:1 or worse. About 12% of the companies had a workforce of women that was more than 30%. Out of 276 companies, which provide comparable data, 103 companies have reported a reduction in the number of women employees.”
In senior management, it was found that overall, in the top 200 companies, women form 14% of the Board of Directors, which in most cases amounts to having one mandatory woman member in a Board of 6 to 7 members. One hundred thirty-five companies have only one female board director.
The study analyses the Business Responsibility Reports of 300 randomly selected private and public sector companies from the top 500 BSE listed companies. The sample comprises 253 private companies and 47 public sector companies.
Considering how inclusion and diversity when it comes to participation of persons with disabilities and women in the workforce in corporate India continues to miss out, is it not time that the shareholders and consumers start holding them responsible?