MUMBAI: Facing a talent shortage, some banks have ended practicing one of the worst gender discriminatory acts they have followed for years - pregnancy tests for married women before they sign their appointment letters.
Axis Bank recently scrapped the test, while rival private banks and some state-run banks continue with the practice at a time when the Rajya Sabha passed a bill for equal rights to transgender people.
"Despite the downturn in the economy, the banking industry has been seeing growth, thanks to the retail side of the business," said Rajesh Dahiya, president of human resources at Axis Bank.
"Talent is going to be scarce as competition increases and the size of the talent pool remains the same. We are redefining our input, throughput and output in terms of talent acquisition. We can not afford to exclude any potential candidate who can serve our needs. Our case is that if you are not being inclusive on issues including gender, you are running a faulty design (for acquisition)."
At least two employees of private sector banks have said that other lenders such as ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank also conduct, or have conducted, pregnancy tests before offering jobs to women.
Both banks did not respond to email queries on the matter for almost a week. "Some private banks do conduct the pregnancy test as a part of the comprehensive medical check-up, but the intent is clean," said a banker familiar with the practice who did not want to be identified.