Sun. Apr 2nd, 2023

Seattle Metropolis Councilmember Kshama Sawant and supporters throughout a information convention this week saying her name for laws to ban caste discrimination in Seattle. (Twitter Picture by way of @cmkshama)

When Seattle Metropolis Councilmember Kshama Sawant launched laws this week to ban caste discrimination in Seattle, her supporters included tech staff who say the system of bias and oppression has adopted them from South Asia to the U.S. and Seattle.

Sawant’s proposed laws can be a first-in-the-nation try to handle a social follow that’s rooted in hundreds of years of historical past in India and different nations. The socialist councilmember representing Seattle’s District 3 stated staff, together with within the tech sector, face discrimination of their workplaces in Seattle and different cities across the nation.

Caste is a system of social hierarchy and sophistication discrimination with boundaries that create social segregation, financial deprivation and even bodily or psychological violence, in response to Sawant.

“With over 167,000 folks from South Asia dwelling in Washington, largely concentrated within the Larger Seattle space, the area should deal with caste discrimination, and never permit it to stay invisible and unaddressed,” Sawant stated this week.

In her 10 years on the Metropolis Council, Sawant has championed a lot of staff’ rights points and has taken on large tech, together with within the battle to get an Amazon “head tax” handed within the metropolis. She introduced final week that she received’t search re-election when her time period is up on the finish of 2023.

Sawant linked this newest struggle to a bigger working-class battle towards ongoing layoffs within the tech sector.

“The billionaire and multimillionaire shareholders and executives of firms like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have made billions of {dollars} in revenue for the reason that pandemic started, and now they’re as soon as once more shoving the burden of the capitalist recession on working folks, by shedding tens of hundreds of tech staff,” she stated.

Throughout a information convention concerning the caste laws at Seattle Metropolis Corridor on Tuesday (video beneath), Sawant was flanked by supporters who included members of the tech neighborhood, which has a big focus of South Asian immigrants.

Samir Khobragade, a former Amazon engineer and present senior director of software program engineering for cloud platforms at NetApp, has labored in tech for 26 years. He stated he grew up in a small, socially segregated mining city in the course of India, and he detailed the separation and discriminatory practices he encountered all through his youth.

With out going into specifics associated to his time within the U.S. or at any of his workplaces, Khobragade stated the discrimination adopted him when he emigrated.

“South Asians are a essential a part of town of Seattle, due to the tech trade, due to the colleges right here,” Khobragade stated. “After we Indians come to the U.S., we deliver our biases with us, and we get away with the discriminatory habits as a result of folks within the U.S. have no idea tips on how to spot this discriminatory habits.”

Madrona Enterprise Group managing director S. “Soma” Somasegar has been across the tech trade for 34 years, together with almost three many years at Microsoft, the place he was head of the tech big’s Developer Division.

S. “Soma” Somasegar. (Madrona Enterprise Group Picture)

“Any type of discrimination is unhealthy, whether or not it’s gender or faith or ethnicity or caste or colour,” Somasegar informed GeekWire on Thursday, whereas acknowledging that caste-based discrimination continues to be fairly prevalent in numerous components of the world.

Somasegar stated he hasn’t personally seen caste bias within the know-how neighborhood in Seattle or within the U.S.

“The query although, if I’ve 100 priorities in entrance of me, the place does this fall on the precedence record?” Somasegar stated. “My expertise has been extra constructive than what this piece of laws would possibly recommend.”

However Raghav Kaushik, a software program engineer at Microsoft for 19 years, stated through the Sawant’s information convention, “I can inform you from my private expertise that caste discrimination occurs right here within the tech sector.”

Kaushik stated that in 2006, when the Indian authorities introduced an affirmative motion program to assist oppressed caste folks, the subject was mentioned in an e mail thread at Microsoft.

“There have been varied staff who expressed very bigoted and hideous feedback mocking caste oppressed folks and Dalits, questioning their intelligence and work ethics,” Kaushik stated. “Caste discrimination exits proper right here in our midst.”

One alleged case of caste discrimination within the tech trade has was a notable lawsuit in California, the place a former employee at Cisco Techniques claims he was a sufferer of discrimination due to his low caste standing.

Bloomberg Legislation reported that the unnamed employee claimed supervisors at Cisco’s San Jose, Calif., headquarters excluded him from conferences and handed him up for promotions on account of his standing as a part of the Dalit caste, thought of the bottom rung of the hierarchical South Asian system.

PREVIOUSLY: Seattle Metropolis Councilmember Kshama Sawant, lengthy a thorn in Amazon’s aspect, received’t search re-election

The lawsuit is testing California’s anti-discrimination statute that features safety for discrimination primarily based on ancestry.

On the power of that Cisco case, staff at Google guardian Alphabet, underneath the Alphabet Staff Union label, beforehand known as on the tech big to use its Indian caste-based anti-discrimination coverage within the U.S, writing, “Alphabet can lead the trade and turn out to be the primary know-how firm so as to add caste as a protected class globally.”

The Fairness Lab, a nonprofit that takes on problems with inequity, present in a 2016 survey of South Asian People that one in 4 caste-oppressed folks confronted bodily and verbal assault, one in three confronted training discrimination, and two in three (67%) confronted office discrimination.

The group stated in a tweet that Sawant’s proposed laws “is a groundbreaking alternative for Seattle to guide the nation in caste fairness and honor its historical past of being a protected house for all.”

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