How does India’s caste system impact doing business in India?

Ask almost any Indian manager in India today and they will tell you that caste is no longer an issue.  Ask any Indian working in a “corporate set up” and they will be pretty uncomfortable to answer this question at all and may try to change the topic quickly.  It is very true that caste still hits the headlines in India today – whether when Gurugram is hit by demonstrations by the Gujjar caste demanding increased reservation, or when there is another gory headline of an “honour” killing somewhere – but it is also true that very few decisions in corporate India are made based on a person’s caste.  Does caste still play some role in hiring decisions?  This is possible, in the same way as a person’s religion or gender or state may play a role on whether a particular candidate is favoured over another one.  It is certainly true that in many offices you will find more people coming from one particular community of the country, but in a country the size of India that is rather to be expected and most Indians will be highly uncomfortable if you question management decisions based on caste.

As an employer this means that you need to be very careful who you hire for your HR and senior management positions – so that you feel comfortable that caste is not an issue for discrimination cases in your office, but with the right senior team in place you will be like any other company in India – aware of caste within wider society but not dealing with any impacts in the workplace.