Dr Corinne Lennox co-hosted an event on Caste-based Discrimination in UK Business and Global Supply Chains at Senate House on 18 July 2023.
This event marks the culmination of a series of events in an innovative project that aimed to support UK businesses to better understand how caste-based discrimination can manifest in their UK operations and also in their supply chains. These activities were funded as part of a Knowledge Exchange Fund Grant offered by SAS, UoL.
Caste-based discrimination is a root cause of many of the most serious forms of labour rights violations, including bonded labour and child labour, as well as being a major factor in discrimination in equal access to fair working conditions, including access to decent work, protection from sexual harassment or violence in the workplace, and equality in hiring, wages and promotion. Despite caste-based discrimination being considered unlawful in national legislation in the UK and in South Asia, there is a need for a greater understanding of the issue among businesses to enable better implementation of these protection measures.
The project was led by the Dalit Solidarity Network, in cooperation with the Human Rights Consortium. We also benefited greatly from the expertise and support of the Ethical Trading Initiative, the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights in India and the International Dalit Solidarity Network.
The final event featured Gazala Shaikh, Director, Dalit Solidarity Network-UK; Manjula Pradeep, a leading human rights activist who is founder of Wise Act of Youth Visioning and Engagement (WAYVE) Foundation whose mission is to transform lives of grassroot women activists and youth leaders from marginalised communities. She is also the Director of Campaigns at the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network. Among the many accolades she has earned for her leadership, Manjula was listed by BBC as one of the 100 influential and inspirational women in the world for the year 2021. Finally, Peter McAllister, Executive Director of the Ethical Trading Initiative, also joined to give an international perspective on this issue.
The project also included the first ever UK training of businesses on caste-based discrimination in supply chains, which was attended by representatives of nine different UK businesses. The training was a pilot training and was informed by data collected by Dr Lennox on how best to meet the capacity gaps in UK businesses on the issue of caste-based discrimination and its effects.