Stakeholder dialogue and Caste in Global Supply Chains – Case India
Caste is the single biggest enabler of labour exploitation and modern slavery in all of South Asia and arguably the single largest human and civil rights issue in the contemporary world. Any business sourcing from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka or other caste-affected countries, as well as other ethical trade stakeholders, should be aware of the mechanisms of caste discrimination and how it may relate to them. Stakeholder engagement is at the core of due diligence for responsible business conduct and we will in addition to a new caste guidance, also present Ethical Trade Norway’s brand new Stakeholder dialogue guidance for SMEs.
In this seminar we will be given an introduction to caste discrimination by the International Dalit Solidarity Network and Ethical Trading Initiative’s new caste guidance will be introduced as an effective tool for business and organisations to proactively counter caste-based discrimination and respect fundamental human rights. We will also launch the new guidance «Engaging stakeholders in due diligence: A beginner’s roadmap for companies”. By consulting your key stakeholders, you will most likely get access to information no social audit or self-assessment questionnaire will provide. You will be able to make informed decisions and identify collaborative ways to address complex issues in your supply chain.
Engaging stakeholders in due diligence: A beginner’s roadmap for companies
This roadmap is the result of consultation with SMEs, a number of stakeholders in India and China and with Norwegian civil society organisations. Two important learnings have emerged from this work:
- More can be done! We found few examples of SMEs engaging with affected stakeholders and/or relevant civil society organisations in production countries in their supply chain in a meaningful way. There is considerable potential for improvement and several companies expressed a wish to engage more and better.
- Don’t do it alone! Civil society and companies alike stated that for SMEs to engage with affected stakeholders in a meaningful way, they need to join forces. Multi-stakeholder platforms in production countries appear to be a good way for SMEs to engage stakeholders in a structured and collaborative way.
What is Caste discrimination?
260 million people face caste discrimination globally, and in India, one in six people are Dalits. Those in the lowest of castes – Dalits – in South Asia, are often considered “impure” and “untouchable” and a person’s caste may mean that he or she is forced to undertake the most dirty and hazardous jobs and is in effect subject to modern slavery. Caste discrimination is outlawed in most affected countries, but the lack of implementation of legislation and caste-bias within the justice systems, leaves Dalits largely unprotected. It is important to note that while this seminar focuses on caste, India’s indigenous communities, also known as Adivasis, suffer from similar discrimination and exploitation in the labour market.
New project India
Ethical Trade Norway has applied Norad for funding for a new project in India. At this seminar you will get a short introduction. The project “Multi-stakeholder dialogue for responsible business conduct in India” seeks to improve working conditions in India, by strengthening dialogue and engagement between civil society and companies through platforms in North and South India. By enabling structured dialogue between civil society, industry associations, global brands, suppliers, academics and other subject-experts, we contribute to a space where civil society organisations are heard and where stakeholders can seek joint innovative solutions to intersecting challenges affecting workers, and engage in joint advocacy.
09.00-09.20 Introduction to New Guidance: Caste in Global Supply Chains, Human Rights Due Diligence and Ethical Trade Norway’s methodology. Heidi Furustøl, Executive Director Ethical Trade Norway
09.20-09.40 Stakeholder dialogue guidance – A beginner’s roadmap for companies. Stine Foss, Senior Adviser Ethical Trade Norway
09.40-10.10 Caste in Global Supply Chains – Background, Challenges and Solutions. Meena Varma, Executive Director, International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN)
10.20-10.40 India’s economic development: challenges and opportunities. XXX
10.40-11.00 Norwegian member company’s experience from sourcing from India and due diligence
11.00-11.30 Panel: Meena Varma, XXX and XXX – practical guidance on concrete business challenges from participants, including Qs and As. Moderator: Heidi Furustøl