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Tata Affirmative Action Programme (TAAP) Assessments


TAAP originated in 2007, as an outcome of India Inc’s resolve to partner with the Indian Government in order to address the historical disadvantage of the country’s 300 million Dalits and Adivasis. Then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s address to CII’s National Council in 2006 sparked a wake-up call for the industry, wherein he indicated that if the industry does not pro-actively take up Affirmative Action (AA), he may not be able to resist political pressure to legislate extending reservations to the private sector.

A critical catalyst for TAAP was the Tata group legacy of CSR/nation building. Between individual company CSR activities and those of the Tata trusts, the group traditionally spends around 4 percent of its aggregated net profits on society, much of which is dedicated to support tribals and Dalits.

Building on that legacy, TAAP has attempted to provide a strategic context in the areas of CSR and HR for the country’s tribals and Dalits, who are not only economically the most disadvantaged, but also face social discrimination. Further, it has sought to build on this strategic context to embed AA into Tata companies, by adopting a methodology that Tata companies are familiar with.


To drive AA into the companies, TAAP has adopted TAAP Assessments, inspired by the Tata Business Excellence Model (TBEM), which is an accepted model within the group for over a decade, and most importantly, a tried and tested model for ensuring overall business excellence.

Based on TBEM, the TAAP model involves a cycle wherein companies prepare an application about their AA activities based on a Criterion document. This document is collaboratively prepared between group AA resources and company AA stalwarts. Trained assessors from other fellow Tata companies assess the companies’ AA activities based on the TAAP application and on-site visits, examining the social impact of their AA initiatives on the basis of the robustness of their leadership commitment to AA, their AA Strategy, and most importantly, the programmes for Dalits and Adivasis under the 4 Es (Employment, Employability, Entrepreneurship, and Education). Following this, the assessors rate the company’s AA performance and provide constructive feedback to the company. Companies with the best ratings and best practices are recognised by the Group Chairman at the AA Convention, which takes place annually. This yearly cycle of Application-Assessment-Improvement provides the required rhythm to the TAAP excellence journey. 

Under TAAP, companies are assessed on the following six categories:

Leadership: Engagement of senior leadership; governance and review structure; communications (100 points).


Strategy: AA vision and strategy; long-term action plan; budget; partnerships, horizontal linkage with the 4 Es (100 points).


Employment, Employability, Entrepreneurship, and Education (Programmes under the 4 Es): Approach, deployment of initiatives (process), societal impact (results), and their continuous improvement (800 points). The scoring is done out of a total score of 1,000 - in bands of 100s, with jumps of 25.


The TAAP assessment cycle of 2015 is the fifth year of such assessments. Some key factors to be noted regarding TAAP today are:


As previously noted, buy-in is largely among CEOs, and the structures have been set up to ensure AA governance, review, and communication. However, a lot needs to be done to address the existing mental barriers and reservations in a way that creates the right mindset among people who matter.



Companies need to evolve from a mere intuitive understanding of the needs and aspirations of SC/ST youth, to a more detailed and professionally carried out understanding of the same. Also, companies that succeed in integrating their AA strategy into their business strategy find the strongest momentum. This has been best executed by companies in the Services sector, dependant on supply of personnel with medium-level skills, where greater ‘stickability’ of SC/ST youth is a key plus. A significant example is Tata Business Support Services, a BPO company.



The principle and strategic advantages of positive discrimination in hiring SC/ST youth are gaining wider acceptance. Overall, the group has about 9 percent SC/ST employees, but at an incremental annual level, the hiring stands at more than 12 percent. The key challenge is to ensure SC/ST representation at the leadership level.



The maximum traction among the Es is in Employability, as companies are familiar with skills enhancement. Annually, around 18,000 SC/ST youth are trained by companies. Organisations are also increasingly accepting that this is not just about training, but also about jobs, and are therefore helping these youth find gainful employment - either within their company, in other organisations, or in self-employment.


This E is gaining traction with most major companies setting up systems to ensure the presence of SC/ST entrepreneurs in their value chain. Group-wide, around 300 SC/ST entrepreneurs have been given business worth INR 140 crores in 2013-14.


A huge quantum of help through scholarships and infrastructure is being provided through this E. Approximately 25,000 students have been provided with aid worth over INR 5 crores by Tata group companies. However, as of now, there is limited impact on achieving the objective of providing quality education to children from Dalit and tribal communities.