Caste vs. Meritocracy

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Those looking for examples of how personal assessments in the workplace can be affected by factors unrelated to performance will be interested in the issues highlighted in a commentary by Rajiv Rao discussing a recent court case filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and House against two Indians on behalf of a third Indian employed at CISCO. As Rao describes, the two individuals in supervisory roles actively engaged in discriminatory behavior after learning that the victim was a member of the Dalit caste.

The complaint alleges that when the victim, identified in the filing as John Doe, brought the issue to the attention of the HR department at CISCO, he was informed that discrimination on the basis of caste was not unlawful. As Rao explains, the lawsuit has generated a good deal of interest and a survey has found that the problem is not limited to this single case, with 1 in 4 Dalits in the US reporting physical violence, 1 in 3 reporting educational discrimination, and 2 in 3 citing workplace discrimination.

This case arose from an employee complaint at a workplace in the heart of Silicon Valley, an area that values both meritocracy and data. How do you think evaluation systems might be designed to generate data to surface such problems before employees bring them forward? What are current data systems on individual performance measuring and what are they missing?

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