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With H-1B visa, diversity doesn't apply

Patrick Thibodeau, Sharon Machlis | Aug. 11, 2015
Apple says workforce diversity "inspires creativity and innovation," but one of Apple's major contractors, Infosys, is far from diverse.

Prior to his layoff, Buchanan attended a job fair, organized by SCE for its soon-to-be terminated employees.

At the Tata booth, which was staffed with "South Asians," Buchanan spoke with a Tata regional manager, who told him that the firm was hiring for jobs at SCE and elsewhere. But the Tata manager "was dismissive," the lawsuit alleges. In comparison, Buchanan "observed that the Tata employees spent considerably more time speaking with South Asian applicants and spoke to them in Hindi about available positions."

The lawsuit against Tata alleges that the firm staffed SCE "with an almost 100 percent South Asian workforce." It claims that about 95 percent of Tata's overall U.S. workforce is made up of South Asians.

A number of technology companies, including Apple, have begun disclosing the workforce diversity data they file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This information stays confidential, unless the firm voluntarily discloses it or is released as part of a court case, which is what happened in the Infosys case.

Theses court cases have potential of shedding more light on the offshore outsourcing industry as well as putting Infosys and Tata, two of the top H-1B visa users, in the position of having to defend their business models. This defense has begun.

George Stohner, an attorney representing Infosys in the Wisconsin case, told the judge that "there's nothing that requires a U.S. employer doing business in the United States to manufacture in the United States. You can employ elsewhere."

"Nor is there ... any requirement," said Stohner, "for a foreign company doing business in the United States to employ workers in the United States." Infosys is required only to follow immigration laws, he said, according to a transcript of the proceeding.

There were around 76,000 H-1B visas issued to people in computer occupations in 2014, which includes those applying for new employment whether or not they fall under the overall H-1B cap (some areas, such as research, are exempt).

After India's top share of visas for computer jobs, China was far behind in second place at just over 5 percent. No other nation rises above 1 percent, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services H-1B data for the 2014 federal fiscal year.

That's considerably different than in other fields, such as engineering, where workers from India had fewer than half the H-1B visas for new employment and China's share was almost quadruple its portion of computer jobs.

India has some advantages that has allowed its IT services to flourish, unlike China's, which was at one time seen as a potential IT services rival to the U.S.

The Indian IT services providers "have proven skillsets in IT services, and English proficiency plays a major role as well," explained David Rutchik, a managing director at Pace Harmon, an outsourcing consulting and advisory firm. "Security concerns are certainly an issue, but China doesn't have mature IT services for export capability either," he said.


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