Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Public Sector in India

Article written by Athira Premarajan

Since its establishment back in the early 1950s, the Public Sector Enterprises (State/government-owned corporations) hold a relevant image, practising effective diversity strategy and being at the forefront as an equitable employer to qualified candidates from all walks of life. The strand extending from caste/religion to geography to women to PwDs (People with Disabilities) to veterans, these organizations always championed the idea of being an equal opportunity provider.

As per a report by ILO (International Labour Organization), Indian government departments and PSUs are one of the leading employers appointing PwD candidates. Initial mandate (1977) that reserved 3% jobs for the PwD candidates in the C & D grades of job positions was later upgraded to higher rankings of A & B grade jobs, adopting the Disability Act of 1995.

Cognizant of the need to provide women with equal opportunity to build an economically empowered nation, the PSU has passed relevant mandates for building an all-inclusive workplace. The gender gap showing a narrowing trend with more women entering the sector, it is imperative to emphasize the increasing intentionality quotient of women to sustain in the workforce. The latest survey result by the DPE (Department of Public Enterprises) records a total of 87,667 women in payroll in the sector.  Thanks to the sensitization sessions across media, male allies/gender advocates, and the mandates laid out by the government, retention and advancement of women in the public sector is not an individual aim but a collective goal. Approximately 10.8% of managerial roles in PSEs are occupied by women, reports People Matters.

Glancing through the policy document released by DPE, it is clear that the PSU is in its best effort to align its DEI agendas to the UN – SDG (United Nations – Sustainable Development Goals), especially the fifth – Gender Equality. Starting with the mandatory maternity leave policy, to enhancing career advancement through training sessions, the policy structure is impressive and well thought through. Some of the relevant HR Policies laid out by PSU are:

  1. Enhancement of women’s representation through skill up-gradation, mentoring, career counselling, etc. This is to be effectively followed by all administrative ministries and departments at the board level for taking efficient measures.
  2. Regular Reports on ‘Status of women govt employees, service conditions, protection against exploitation, incentives and other related issues’. WIPS (Women in Public Sector) is a forum instituted under this for employees to have a collective ground for experience sharing, career counselling, speedy grievance redressal, etc.
  3. Policy provision to all employees (for all grades) uniformly. This includes maternity leave up to 180 days, childcare leave up to 730 days, child adoption leave up to 180 days, paternity leave up to 15 days, and protection and prevention against sexual harassment of women.
  4. Creche set up near or in the workplace for women having primary school-going children.
  5. Constitution of Complaint Committee for reporting sexual harassment cases.

Remarkably, provisions to enable career opportunities for PwDs and veterans are not far behind. Facilitation of differently abled-friendly examination centres, post allotment as per the degree of disability, accessibility audit assessment for measuring infrastructural readiness of the workplace, including ramps, parking, washrooms, braille symbols, and auditory signals in elevators, are all part of the Accessible India Campaign instituted for the inclusion of the PwD candidates. Furthermore, for ex-servicemen who re-enter their career under the veteran category, the DGR (Directorate General of Resettlement) – An inter-service organization working under the Ministry of Defence ensures protection against any exploitation from staffing agencies that act as mediators. Prescribed service charges and authorized staffing agencies are appointed for their benefit by the DGR.

Underrepresentation of diverse talent is a global issue that requires immediate action plans. And, for it to gain traction, a collective effort is mandatory with an equal share of effort put in towards economic development. PSU evidently has a set policy structure inclusive of the marginalized segments of the society. What’s next is the effective utilization of the opportunities by the candidates as significant improvements are being mandated from the stakeholder’s side. This aligned parallelly with the increased intentionality of diversity talent can help PSUs evolve as one of the most inclusive employers in the country.  

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