Caste is one of the greatest sources of prejudice and discrimination in the world today, depriving people of access to decent work and human dignity, and used to justify slavery and child labour for millions across the globe.
Yet many ethical trade stakeholders, including businesses, trade unions and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) alike, are not aware of the subject and how it may relate to them.
With a lack of knowledge of the realities of caste and its consequences, even progressive, responsible businesses may undermine their own efforts to protect workers’ rights and implement the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Base Code.
This caste guidance seeks to support businesses in understanding the risks posed by caste discrimination when their operations and supply chains stretch into caste-affected countries. The guidance explains how caste, if unaddressed, can fundamentally undermine the implementation of the ETI Base Code and ensuring compliance on labour rights. This guidance also sets out good governance and management practices to enable businesses to proactively counter caste-based discrimination, respect fundamental human rights, and advance access to decent work for all.