2014 Business Predictions Based On Bollywood Movies

In the age of big data, data mining, social media, market studies and customer feedback, it may sound surreal to analyse business trends from Bollywood movies. Strange as it may seem, Bollywood movies provide a wealth of information on cultural change, latest fads, and customer tastes. Agree, the movies aren’t intellectually stimulating or sensible; most of them are over the top but let us not be scornful about the hyperbole and read the real picture. Tell me what you make out this analysis.

1.      Women Rule

The male bastion crumbled this year;  in most of the movies the actress portrayed a strong character, frequently superior than the actor. In Ramleela, the heroine was a gun wielding female don’s daughter capable of pulling the trigger on betrayal. In Yeh Jiwani Hai Diwani, the female character, a nerd, beat the male character in academics. In Ashiqui 2, the female protagonist, a singer outperforms the male protagonist. Leading ladies are taking centre stage, they are no longer willing to play second fiddle and be decorative while the hero steals the show.

Ramleela

In business parlance, do not ignore the female customer or the female employees. Indian women are making the buying decisions, therefore ensure that the advertising pitch appeals to them and the sales process is women centric.

Additionally, after the changes in sexual harassment act and the companies act, women are gearing for a stronger role in corporate world. The Companies Act requires at least one woman to be on the board, hence develop the top talent. The sexual harassment act has empowered women and cases are making headlines. Change the work culture to ensure equality, educate staff on sexual harassment, and form legal recourse systems. Insure senior staff from sexual harassment claims and do a background check to determine propensity for sexual harassment.

2.      Think Local

Top actors and actresses made a beeline for roles with stories in rural villages and small towns. A few years back they would have turned up their noses on a project that wasn’t with a foreign country backdrop. Most of the blockbuster’s set in small towns – Chennai Express, Ramleela, Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, Ranjhana, Phata Poster Nikla Hero, etc. – had tremendous box office success.

The Indian directors’ cultural understanding of customers is excellent. The trend shows Indian customers awe for foreign brands and products is reducing. The customers want products Indianized to their taste. The burger and pizza sales give ample evidence. Over 50% of the revenues of multinational fast food chains are coming from vegetarian products. For instance, McDonald’s highest grosser, Aloo (Potato) Tikki Burger recipe was made in India.

Customize products to cater to small town customers rather than the metros to get higher turnovers. In local markets, value for money concept works and not fancy brand names.

Astoundingly, employees working in metros are moving to small towns for better work-life balance. The craze for big cities, fast life is disappearing due to high cost of living, traffic and infrastructure problems, and superficial social relationships.

3.      Complete India Story

Northern India and Southern India directors and stories intersected this year. Within India, state borders are reducing in meaning. For instance, in Chennai Express the hero is from Delhi, the heroine is from Chennai. In Gori Teri Pyaar Mein, the male protagonist is from Bangalore and female protagonist is from Delhi. Bollywood is no longer targeting just North Indian customers; they are making headway in South India. A few Hindi movies were remakes of South Indian movies . Astonishingly, South Indian directors are making Hindi movies.

In the last decade, Indians are crossing inter-state borders frequently. Caste, region, and religion differences are diminishing. Business needs to rethink the marketing strategy. Products made for North Indian customers may do well in South India and vis-a-versa. Tastes are changing and acceptability levels for different products are improving. For instance, previously consumer durable major market was in North India. However, the latest survey shows the top states are– Punjab, Kerala, Haryana, Karnataka and Tamil Naidu.

4.      Focus on Gen-Y

Sweet and nice, stereotypical and rehash doesn’t sell with Gen-Y. Unique, controversial, adventurous, and nonconformist sails through. In Ranjhana, the female protagonist organizes the death of a childhood admirer to avenge the death of her adult lover. In Gori Tere Pyaar Mein, the heroine is a social activist, older than the hero, working in a remote village. In Lunchbox, the male character is a 50-year-old man falling in love with a married woman he has never seen. In Krissh 3, super heroes and villains, half human-half animal battle it out. Sporting legends biopic (Bhaag Mikka Bhaag)  and historical political drama (Madras Café) entered the arena. The conventional isn’t making its mark.

krissh 3

Indian Gen Y have information of international products on the tips of their fingers. Secondly, their tastes are similar across country. Previously, there was a vast difference in tastes of the younger generation in metros and smaller towns due to limited information. Now Google Translate has removed those barriers.

Hence, business sector needs to invest in research and innovation, an area they haven’t focused on earlier. The products must be of international quality, fresh and new, at local prices. The business that has the courage to differentiate, leave traditional thinking behind will get massive returns. Businesses centering on adventure sports, exclusive hobbies, social entrepreneurship, video games, and technology apps are expected to do well.

Moreover, organizations to attract and retain Gen Y need to transform the bureaucratic and hierarchical culture. Build a culture on openness, transparency, creativity, risk taking, and empowerment.

 5.      Foray Globally

The top grosser of the year – Dhoom 3 did good business in the international market. Now the Indian movies have rap music with Hindi lyrics, use latest technology (Krissh 3), and have glitzy action. Indian award shows have built Bollywood brand abroad. A few Indian actors and directors have gained international repute.

According to a McKinsey report, 30% of the revenues of top 100 companies in India is coming from international business. Indian companies are either taking over foreign companies or establishing their own in other countries. Hence, time has come to venture abroad keeping in mind the international tastes. Don’t sell the Indian product in its standard form. Customize it according to the international tastes by using their knowledge and technology.

Closing Thoughts

Risk managers’ check out the business strategy and plans for 2014. If the products pipeline, advertisements, sales processes, customer interactions, research and development, and talent management, isn’t considering the above-mentioned aspects, there might be some risks. Lastly, be adventurous and try out new approaches.

Wishing all my readers a very happy and prosperous new year.

iGate’s Failures in Risk Management

phaneeshiGate fired its CEO Phaneesh Murthy for sexual misconduct after Araceli Roiz; an American employee accused him of sexual harassment. As per media reports she has claimed that the relationship started soon after she joined the organization in 2010 and is pregnant with his child.

Mr Phaneesh Murthy has the dubious honor of facing two similar charges while working as a senior manager in Infosys in 2002. Reka Maximovitch and Jennifer Griffith had both received huge out of court settlements previously. Now he faces the similar charges from Araceli Roiz. Mr Murthy has acknowledged that he had sexual relationships with Ms Roiz. However, it was with her consent. He has alleged he is being defamed and this is an attempt at extortion.

With the limited information available in the media, one cannot comment on the details of the personal relationship.

However, this disaster teaches a few lessons. iGate could have prevented this reputation damage and legal risks if it would have taken a few timely steps.  iGate board and senior managers failed to take due care of the following risks.

1.     Pre-employment Background Screening

Mr Murthy has an excellent academic and professional achievement record. He was credited for taking Infosys turnover from $ 2 million to $ 700 million. However, when he was hired by iGate in 2003 he was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The sexual harassment cases were all over the media.

iGate needed a CEO who could deliver results. My guess is the board looked the other way or considered Mr Murthy’s infidelities small or insignificant. However, if a junior or middle manager had the same reputation, his career would have been over. No organization would have hired him.

Hence, when generally senior managers background screening is more stringent  than junior or middle managers, iGate board took the opposite stance.  It appears that the same yardstick isn’t being applied for background screening or it is being given lip service.

2.     Failure to Monitor & Control CEO Behavioural Risks

iGate board and senior managers chose to ignore the CEO behavior  As per media reports, the relationship was known to the staff. However, it appears no action was taken to guide or coach Mr Murthy.

Read these statements of Mr Murthy from prior interviews at the time of Patni takeover.

The National – “Everyone says that M&As are about ego. I’ve been a salesperson for 10 years. For every 100 doors that you knock on, 98 get shut in your face. That has knocked away most of my ego. I have two teenage boys who whip my butt in every game. They have gone from wanting to be on my team to not wanting to be on the loser’s team. Because of that, I have no ego left.”

Livemint – “Not at all. I am basically a conservative, middle-class south Indian Brahmin. As it is, we don’t like debt, and I am very uncomfortable with a $700 million (around Rs 3,180 crore) debt.”

Ms Araceli Roiz is 31 years old and Mr Phaneesh Murthy is 53 years old. In conservative South-Indian Brahmin families “divorce” is taboo. With two teen aged boys at home, he started an affair, if Mr Roiz version is true, when she was in her late twenties.

From a psychological perspective, it is a classic case of a talented man unable to deal with his own fallibility and mortality. Mr Murthy is a competitive man and the yearly success in his career may have made him feel invincible and powerful.  He is raised on Indian middle class values that look down on promiscuous behavior  He competes with his own children in games. He was heading an Indian IT organization where the average age of employees is 25-26 years. Does it look like he was suffering from mid-life crises?

The board members and other senior managers could have identified the emotional baggage he was carrying around and addressed the issue. The question arises, when the board knew about his weakness and character problem, was he provided any coaching or mentoring? Or did the board take the view, that as long as he is delivering the numbers, everything will be tolerated.

3.     Lack of attention to work culture

The board and management knew that Mr Murthy had a marked reputation in respect to female employees. Secondly, it appears that is relationship with Ms Roiz was an open secret. From his own words, it doesn’t seem that he took sexual harassment or company policies seriously. In the interview, he stated:

“It was a personal relationship. The company policy states that any two employees having a relationship have to inform the superiors. It is a small note in an employee handbook. I did inform the company about the relationship. Though it was a question of timing from my side as I disclosed this only a few weeks ago, only after the relationship was over.”

According to him, “it is a small note” in the company handbook.  He didn’t believe in walking the talk in personal ethics or corporate code of conduct. Hence, the question arises, what attention iGate paid to maintain the corporate culture.

With previous cases of sexual harassment against the CEO and an on-going affair, did iGate management ensure that the sexual harassment policies were implemented in spirit? If a woman, as per Roiz’s claim, was forced into a sexual relationship by the CEO, what effect did it have on other female employees and work culture? Did it not set the stage for the hostile work culture where women would feel insecure to report cases of sexual harassment? Let us say, another female employee was harassed by a male senior manager, what options does she have when she knows that the CEO is doing something similar? How seriously was sexually offensive behavior taken by the management?

 The organizations pay a heavy price in respect to sexually harassing culture. The direct costs are of course legal penalties and cases, however, the indirect costs are absenteeism, disengagement, high turnover and lower productivity. The iGate management appears to have ignored these aspects while hiring Mr Murthy and during his tenure.

4.     Ineffective Crises Management

iGate public relations team issued the statement – “The investigation, which is on-going, has reached the finding that Murthy’s failure to report this relationship violated iGATE’s policy, as well as Murthy’s employment contract. The investigation has not uncovered any violation of iGATE’s harassment policy.”

It gave information on the interim CEO and search for the new CEO, to rest fears of the investors.

This appears more of an attempt to limit legal risks. According to US laws the company is responsible for sexual misconduct by its employees. Subsequent to the above news, the company has not made any statement or explanation on what it did to prevent such incidents.

According to media reports, the Indian employees received an explanation from the senior managers on the incident and were instructed not to talk to people outside and within the organization. An instruction not to communicate with the media or put comments in social media is sound. However, not to communicate with fellow employees sounds like an attempt to silence. Can management stop the discussion outside office hours between the employees?

In such instances, various stakeholder expectations need to be addressed. It is a sensitive issue that gets the attention of public, bloggers, activists, women lobbies etc. Even the employees psychological stress levels increase and they need to be managed. However, from the information available in the media, there isn’t much effort being done to manage the crises.

Closing Thoughts

Sexual harassment cases cause huge reputation damage and legal risks. I am not sure whether after Mr Murthy’s previous cases, iGate got proper insurance coverage for directors and senior manager liabilities. Implementing sexual harassment policies and holding everyone to high standards of conduct is something organizations need to concentrate on. The issue was taken lightly previously, but now women workforce is increasing and so are the cases of harassment. Unless companies wish to have their name tarnished, they need to take the right steps.

References:

  1. Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/technology/rise-and-fall-and-rise-again-of-it-star-phaneesh-murthy#ixzz2UBKIGikk
  2. http://www.financialexpress.com/news/phaneesh-murthy-i-will-fight-sexual-harassment-charges-vigorously/1118857/1
  3. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/careers/job-trends/Murthy-scandal-iGate-staff-gets-social-media-code/articleshow/20222185.cms

Happy Woman’s Day – Wishing More Power to Women

women wearing

Whatever a woman wears shocks some man on this earth. A bikini-clad woman will most probably shock Indian urban male sensibilities, a burqha-clad woman will shock a French man, and a woman wearing a ghoonghat would shock an American. Still people judge a woman by what she wears. In patriarchal societies, character and sexuality of a woman is the same thing. Chastity, virtue and good character of a woman are prime importance. Men do honor killings in its name. What purpose do they serve? If women are not supposed to have sex with men, then is society promoting gay behavior?

In India, a country that was progressive in before Christ era, the situation has deteriorated with each passing century. India is the 4th unsafe place for women in the world. Times of India reported that in Bangalore, 64% women feel unsafe to commute at nighttime. In rural India, situation of women is worse. They do not even have an education. Women face physical, emotional and psychological abuse every day.

1.      Virginity & Sexuality

The propaganda is that Hindu mythology books –Ramayana and Mahabharata – define the ideal woman. It is convenient; Sita the female protagonist in Ramayana is the ideal woman. Mahabharata depicts characters that are more realistic. For example, Draupadi, the heroine of Mahabharata had five husbands. In present day, men definitely can’t accept polyandry. Her mother-in-law, Kunti, gave birth to a son, Karan, before marriage. Her three sons after marriage were from different fathers as her husband was impotent. Draupadi was publicly disrobed and it is the men who are projected in negative light. The book shows both Kunti and Draupadi in positive light.

Presently, in Indian society looks down on women having sex with different men or having a child before marriage. Mahabharata was depicting a time period of 10th century BC, and we call ourselves broad minded.

2.      Marriage and Dowry

One of the most negative customs in Indian society is that of dowry. As a good girl of Indian society should have an arranged marriage, her parents have to pay a big fat dowry to get a bridegroom. A woman is supposed to let her parents choose her husband.

In ancient India, the concept of Swaimwar existed. The parents of the girl would organize a Swaimwar, inviting eligible men for the marriage of their daughter. The daughter could run tests on the men, and choose her own husband. Even kings had to take rejection gracefully when they attended a Swaimwar.  It was the woman’s choice, and neither the parents nor the participants could change the decision.

Rape was punishable in some cases with death and in all situations; a woman’s consent was required for sex. For sex or marriage, a woman did not need her parent’s permission and could independently decide.

Women received “Stridhan” (wealth of a woman) at the time of marriage. This money and property was given to her by her and her husband’s relatives to use in case of emergency and/or on death of her husband. Even her husband was not entitled to use the money generally.

However, now the girl’s parents are pressured to give money to the bridegroom’s parents, and the girl doesn’t get any of it. In some cases, in rural India, if a girl chooses a lover or husband, she is killed to retain family honour. Rate of female infanticide is high because parents don’t wish to have liability of a girl. Tragically, the olden concepts have been twisted to fulfill power and greed.

3.      Widowhood, Divorce and Re-marriage   

Widowed and divorced women are socially excluded, as they are considered unlucky. Both are a social stigma. Hence, remarriage of divorced or widowed women is difficult.

It is incredible, that Kautilya’s Arthshastra defines the conditions of divorce, desertion and widowhood. He also mentions the period of separation and remarriage for divorced and widowed women. Islam and Sikhism accepted divorce and remarriage since inception.

The social custom of sending widowed and deserted women to temples to live a life of abstinence was more of an economic need than religious requirement. Even Sati (wife burning herself on her husband’s pyre) was a way to save money, in the name of chastity and virtue. Widowed and deserted women then would not require significant monetary support if it is propagated that they should not live a life of luxury.

Again here, the social customs were twisted to suit monetary ends. The tragic part is that these are done in the name of religious mandate. Hence, few would challenge the customs openly. We need to change the mind-sets to succeed in a global environment. India can’t succeed when 50% of its population is tied up in such draconian customs. Let us focus on independence and liberation of women in this century.

Closing Thoughts

Well, one can only argue with men up to a point. So I thought let me be open-minded and consider their perspective. Maybe one can decide a character of a person by the clothes they wear. I need a little bit of help form my readers. Could you look at the following pictures, and tell me which man has the best character. I am not blind yet, so I could figure out who looks the sexiest, but drastically failed at assessing character.

men character

Wishing a Very Happy Woman’s Day to all my readers.

Justice Verma’s Report – A Respite for Indian Women

Justice Verma’s report besides covering sexual harassment at workplace also covers other crimes committed on women. Most of these questions were never raised or those who raised them were unheard. Nevertheless, for a civilized democratic nation, the existing social attitudes need to be challenged. India cannot become a global super power when it is the fourth unsafe country in the world for women, nearly 50% of its population. It is our duty to question existing archetypes, advocate change and bring about new thinking.

India was among the few countries that gave equal rights to women on Independence in its Constitution. Mahatma Gandhi thoughts reflected his open thinking in the following words. Let us make them a reality in this century.

“Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacities. She has the right to participate in the minutest details in the activities of man, and she has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him. She is entitled to a supreme place in her own sphere of activity as man is in his. This ought to be the natural condition of things and not as a result only of learning to read and write. By sheer force of a vicious custom, even the most ignorant and worthless men have been enjoying a superiority over woman which they do not deserve and ought not to have. Many of our movements stop half way because of the condition of our women.”

The issue is at the heart of Indian society and below are few points from the report that I wish to bring to your attention.

1.     Rape and Sexual Assault

The Indian Penal Code defines rape as:

“A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:—

First.—Against her will.

Secondly.—Without her consent.

Thirdly.—With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

Fourthly.—With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

Fifthly.—With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

Sixth.—With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.”

In Indian society, few women are able to exercise their right to object or say no. Men obtain consent through psychological, emotional, financial and physical coercion and threat. The popular concept is that rich men do not rape, it is only poor men who rape women. If a rich man obtains consent through coercion, the women agreed. The standard should be clear. Any man who forces himself on a woman when she has said no is attempting rape. Sex with a woman when she is opposing or resisting is rape. Consent given out of fear or criminal intimidation is rape. Period.

The situation of an Indian wife is the worst possible in the world. Every woman in the world has a right to say no, except an Indian wife. She is duty bound to have sex with her husband. For the first time Justice Verma has included marital rape. Wife is not a property of the husband and has the right to revoke her consent to sex during the course of her marriage. The report states- “A rapist remains a rapist irrespective of the relationship with the victim.” In mordern context, marriage is a relationship of equals and consent cannot be assumed as implied.

Secondly, rape victims face extreme humiliation in courts when their past personal life is dragged for discussion. The defense lawyers ruin the reputation of the victim by bringing past love affairs. In Indian society, if a woman has sex outside of her marriage she becomes characterless. The whole attitude adds insult to injury. Justice Verma has recommended that a woman’s past life cannot be a subject matter for debate in court in a rape case.

It requires extreme courage in India for a woman to report rape and most of the cases go unreported due to the social stigma a raped woman faces. She is ostracized and alienated by the society and her reputation is ruined. The abusive men proudly boast about their power and accomplishments in brow beating women into submission. This attitude needs complete revamping as it distorts the justice system. Society should view rape as a crime and not evaluate it on a shame-honor paradigm as it puts the victimized woman on trial instead of the rapist.

Sohaila Abdulali, a rape victim had succinctly put it – “Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is located in my vagina, just as I reject the notion that men’s brains are in their genitals.” This brave heart has the courage to break the rigid thinking and fight against atrocities.

2.     Eve Teasing and Stalking

The Indian Journal of Criminology and Criminalistics (January- June 1995 Edn.) has categorized eve teasing into five heads viz. (1) verbal eve teasing; (2) physical eve teasing; (3) psychological harassment; (4) sexual harassment; and (5) harassment through some objects. In India the safety of women is at risk in all public places and not just the workplace. Women are sexually harassed in public spaces by men making unwarranted comments. In some cases, the obscene words and gestures seriously impact the dignity of women.

A minor girl in India from the time of achieving puberty becomes a target of eve teasing. As India is a conservative society, she learns to suffer the indignities quietly. As such with the parental attitude that girls are a liability, Indian girls have a low self-esteem. They are trained to behave according to “what will people say”. Hence, the young unsure girl suffers psychologically and emotionally without an outlet since she cannot share her “shame”. If she does so, she will be shunned.

For men it is just an entertaining pastime to demonstrate their machismo. They generally go unpunished due to the lax implementation of criminal action in these cases. Women hardly report the cases to police though eve-teasing is a criminal offence

Justice Verma’s report gives recommendations to curtail eve-teasing. He has suggested  deputation of female police officers at public places, installation of CCTV cameras in public places, filing of police complaints by public transport and public place operators etc. These are steps in the right direction.

If a man wishes to talk to a woman, he can do so in a graceful and dignified manner without offending the sensibilities of the woman. He does not need to stalk a woman, behave in an uncouth and uncivilized manner to get attention. Moreover, if a woman has rejected his advances, he should accept that gracefully. His interest and her rejection do not give a right to harass and abuse her. The women should not adopt a defeatist attitude or try to convince themselves that the man is showing affection and liking. He is blatantly saying that he does not respect you or your wishes. Thankfully, Justice Verma’s report has included stalking as a criminal offense.

Closing Thoughts

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is about fighting fear tooth and nail in every step we take to define a new path. The educated women and men of India need to fight this battle for their less privileged counterparts. When Indian women could fight shoulder to shoulder in the non-violent struggle for Indian Independence, they can fight now too. In life, always the crazies have brought about change. Don’t be scared to be marked as quirky or non-conformist, you are in good company. Before Independence, British thought Mahatma Gandhi as a fruitcake. The point is, no one will fight your battle for you. We need to do it for ourselves. Progress of Indian women serves India’s national interest. Hence, let us move forward with courage and conviction to redefine the status of women in Indian society

References:

Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law – Justice Verma,

Justice Verma’s Report – Views on Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Justice Verma’s report covers sexual harassment at the workplace. While in September Lok Sabha cleared the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012, it is pending with the Rajya Sabha. The Supreme Court ruling of the Vishakha case in 1998 hasn’t improved the condition of women in the workplace. It looks like things are finally changing for the better with Justice Verma’s report as he covers some critical issues about the topic. Here is a brief overview of the issues Indian working women face and the relevant aspects of the act. The Indian organizations will now have to address these human resource risks properly.

1.     Background  

The Indian Constitution grants equal rights to women. It states that women have the fundamental rights to life with human dignity, to equality, and to work in ones chosen profession or trade inherently include protection from sexual harassment. Article 42 emphasis that – “The State shall make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief”. The Constitution guarantees certain fundamental freedom to women as it considers that as a bedrock for democracy. However, Indian society even after over 60 years of independence considers women a subservient gender. Sexual harassment is rampant in society including the workplace.

Finally, the 2012 Sexual Harassment Act will provide some protection to women. According to the act, sexual harassment constitutes of the following unwelcome acts or behavior (whether directly or by implication) namely:

(i)              physical contact and advances; or

(ii)             a demand or request for sexual favors; or

(iii)            making sexually colored remarks; or

(iv)           showing pornography; or

(v)            any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Further on, the act states that the following circumstances, along other circumstances, if they occur or are in relation to or connected with any act or behavior of sexual harassment may amount to sexual harassment:-

(i)              implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment.

(ii)             implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment in her employment

(iii)            implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment

(iv)           interferes with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive work environment for her; or

(v)            humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety

2.     Formation of Employment Tribunal

The act mentions formation of Internal Complaints Committee by the organization and a Local Complaints Committee at district or local level. The logic is that the employee should first address the complaint internally and if the employer is involved then the aggrieved women should approach the Local Complaints Committee. However, as we have seen in the ten years after the Vishaka case, these are not effective when senior managers are involved in sexual harassment. The woman generally loses her job if she files a complaint as the Internal Committee driven by Human Resource department supports the senior management.

Justice Verma report suggests formation of Employment Tribunal. He suggests that Internal Complaints Committee and Local Complaints Committee are not required as this process dissuades the women from complaining. I completely agree with Justice Verma. The senior managers will have lessor influence on external parties.

3.     Punishment on Filing False Complaint

The act states that if the Internal Committee or Local Committee determines that the allegation made by the woman was malicious or false, the woman can be punished for filing a false complaint

Justice Verma’s report recommends that a woman should not be punished for filing a false complaint.

Though, overall I am against the view of filing false cases and consider that these should be punishable. However, in case of sexual harassment, my view is that the women should not be punished. In all probability, there will be a few false cases filed by some crooked women. But in India due to society’s attitude, very few women have the courage to fight sexual harassment publicly  Secondly, if they file a case against senior managers, with the corruption level existing in the country, most cases can be made into false complaints. Hence, in these cases women should not be penalized if the case is proven false.

4.     Time Period for Filing Complaint

The act states that a woman should file the sexual harassment complaint within three months of the incident or the last incident.

Justice Verma states that there should be no time limit for filing the complaint.

I agree with Justice Verma’s suggestion. Indian women are geared to think that humiliating and sexually harassing behavior is acceptable. The kind of thinking is “men will be men”. Very few women have the courage to point blankly tell a man that sexually harassing behavior is unacceptable in civilized society. Hence, women generally file a complaint after repeated harassment. Problem further is intensified for married women, since the husbands tend to blame the wife for inappropriate behavior  There is a high-level social stigma attached to it, and sometimes marriage breaks up. Lastly, sexual harassers threaten a woman by spreading rumors and doing various acts to ruin her reputation. Hence, in Indian context there should not be a time limit for filing the complaint.

5.     Transfer of the Complainant

The act specifies that the Internal Committee or the Local Committee can transfer the aggrieved woman or grant leave to her.

Justice Verma’s report states that this should be done with the consent of the woman.

I agree with the logic of Justice Verma. Sometimes if a woman files a case in one city, she will be transferred to a remote place from where travelling expense will be significant or unaffordable. Hence, the woman will be unable to fight her case.

Moreover, sometimes she is forced to take leave and then rumours are spread. When she comes back, her job is given to another person. After waiting for a couple of months in the hostile climate, she automatically quits. Hence, in all these cases a woman’s consent should be mandatory before any action is taken

6.     Conciliation

The act states that the Internal Committee or the Local Committee at request of the aggrieved woman takes steps to settle the matter between her and the respondent through conciliation. The settlement so arrived should be recorded.

Justice Verma contends that conciliation is against the dignity of the woman and adds further to the humiliation. Hence, the section should be deleted.

In my view, the act states that conciliation process should start at the request of the woman. Hence, it is her practical choice and she should be allowed that. In Indian society, a woman may not have the means to continue a case for long and her reputation is perpetually at risk.

However, the act should specify the level and magnitude up to which conciliation should be attempted. If a woman is being threatened or the case is serious, she should be advised against conciliation and provided adequate protection from retaliation.

7.     Compensation and Employer Liability

The act states that an appropriate amount should be deducted from the salary and wages of the respondent and paid to the aggrieved women. If the employer is unable to deduct, for instance, the employee leaves the organization, and respondent fails to pay, the same will be forwarded to the District Officer.

In my view, the organization is liable for compensation as it failed to provide a secure and dignified working environment to the woman. Justice Verma has also mentioned that employer should be liable to pay for all losses incurred by the women due to sexual harassment.

The act only specifies a fine up to fifty thousand rupees is the employer fails to constitute an Internal Committee or contravenes any of the sections of the act. This amount is peanuts for large organizations and they shall blatantly ignore the act. Justice Verma has rightly recommended a prison sentence in case there is a systemic flaw and discrimination is encouraged. In India in some organizations, sexual harassment by senior managers is considered a right. They can choose any women and she is required to comply.

Closing Thoughts

Justice Verma has done a commendable job in highlighting the problems women face in Indian society and in giving solutions. For once, the report isn’t a white wash to cover some political agenda and shares strong opinions. We have to hope that the government takes the required steps with the same speed the report was issued. More than 25% women in India face sexual harassment at workplace and they have no effective redressal system to file their complaints. For a civilized democratic society, this is an unacceptable situation. The Indian organizations would find the rules tough to follow. However,  25-30% of employee strength constitutes of women. Hence, they must ensure secure and dignified working environment. Finally, after a woman lost her life in a gang rape, we are moving in the right direction. May her sacrifice be worth it.

Wish my Indian readers a Happy Republic Day. Especially the women, hope you get the freedom denied to you even after independence. 
 

References:

  1. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012
  2. Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law – Justice Verma,

The Burden of Being a Woman in India

In December 2012, the horrific rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student brought into limelight the insecure lives Indian women lead. Six men in a bus brutally raped her. Her friend who had gone with her to see a movie, tried to stop them but he was beaten by an iron rod. A 17 year old who raped her, inserted a rod inside her and took out her intestines. After the rape, the culprits threw the couple out on the road, naked! No one helped them for two hours. The girl after battling for her life for two weeks, died in a Singapore hospital. She became another woman whose dreams, hopes and life was crushed by the hands of men.

In India, a girl is at risk from the day she is conceived. If she is not aborted, she is considered a liability from her birth. She has to be subservient to all to survive. Her aspirations are sacrificed on the altar of her brother’s rights and privileges. When she gets married, her parents pay a dowry to the groom to keep her. She does not get any rights in her husband’s home also. She can be raped by her husband and she has no legal recourse, as she is duty bound to have sex with her husband. She has to lose her identity to ensure her husband’s success. An Indian women cannot demand equal rights from her father, brother, husband or son. In India, the saying holds true – behind every successful man, there is a woman. But behind every failed woman, there are men.

An Indian man from his cradle is taught that being beastly to women is a sign of masculinity and superiority. The abusive relationships he witnesses between his father and mother, hardwires him for life to treat women as objects and slaves. A teenage boy learns to sexually harass women publicly. Boys start rudely commenting on young girls and women walking on the street. It is called “eve teasing”, supposedly a sign of growing up of a boy. The young girls learn that they can be insulted and humiliated publicly by any random male and no one is going to come to their help. There is no protection available, and she just has to tolerate it.

The apathy in the society is such that no one will come to help a woman even if she is publicly asking for it. The worst part is that other men and women will join them in tormenting the women being abused. You see, the woman asked for it and deserves it. That is how bad the psychology of Indian society is. If a woman manages to break the chains and stands on her own two feet, men and women both will aggressively attack her at a social and psychological level. The women, who are dependent on men to win brownie points from them, will support them and make the woman’s life more miserable.A woman who is being abused by men will be isolated by women and made to suffer more. Women do the dirty work of men, against women. That is the tragedy. India is the fourth unsafe country for women in the world.

A woman has to accept physical, emotional and psychological torture without any hope that it will end. She is at the mercy of men. If rich men are involved, then she does not even have legal resource, as they will bribe the law enforcement staff. On the other hand, the society will support the rich men to get favors from them.

The same situation continues in offices. The sexual harassment faced by women in India is the highest in the world. However, the sexual harassment act is in draft stages for over a decade. No woman has won a sexual harassment case against a powerful man in India. In most cases, when a woman has managed to lodge a legal complain she has been proved to be mentally unsound and/or politically motivated. The sad part is fathers of daughters protect other men than the sexually harassed women to remain part of the men’s club. Then they expect that the other men will not harass their daughters in offices. A twisted thinking that highlights what the daughters were subjected to at home. Moreover, men to show their superiority will mob an aggressive and independent woman in Indian offices. Seniors will either encourage it or turn a blind eye. Very few organizations ensure protection from sexual harassment by seniors.

Closing thoughts

Being beastly and brutal towards women signifies masculine power and superiority in Indian society. Female physical and economic weakness makes her a target for social exploitation. Without women gaining social and financial equality, the plight of women will not cease. They will continue to endure the atrocities meted out to them silently, scared to voice their anger and fight for their rights. In India, the bias is so strong that when a woman fights for her rights, she is called Phollan Devi, and when a man fights for his, he is walking the steps of Mahatma Gandhi. With these judgments, society wishes to silence women forever. Men wish to continue the tyranny of past centuries in the 21st century to safeguard the male order.  That is the real tragedy.

I dedicate this post to the gang-raped girl Jyoti. May the candle lit from her pyre light the life of women in India.

candle light

Indian Social Values – Root of Corruption

Page three newspapers are full of celebrities’ rave parties, fist fights, sex scandals, botox treatments, etceteras. The not so rich idealize these celebrities and mimic all, to be the in-crowd. With these social values, can Indian’s consider it cool to be good?

The west puts India on the pulpit for its values. From Beatles to Julia Roberts, western celebrities talk about Indian culture of prayers, the land of discovering one’s spirit and sense of being. When majority of the middle class Indians themselves are lost, the crown of leader of spiritual world appears  somewhat misplaced. Indians in the present world, from birth, get to understand that all human emotions come at a price. This may sound as a harsh statement, but is reality. Let us walk through the different phases of life of a middle class Indian to discover the spiritual compromises they make.

1. Indian Childhood

India post-independence from a land of leaders propagating good values  has turned into a land people indulging in  unscrupulous behavior in the name of social values. It starts with birth. From the 1960’s the desire to have a son grew among parents. Educated parents get female fetus aborted  since the son has more value in the marriage market. The sex ratio is 109.4 males to 100 females in 2011. According to reports nearly 50,000 female fetus are aborted every month.

The reason for abortions is financial. According to the Indian system, a girl’s father in arranged marriages pays dowry for getting a husband for his daughter. Secondly, in the conservative families daughters aren’t allowed to work. Hence, the cost of raising a daughter, educating her, is lost while a son earns back the money for parents from working and getting a dowry. Therefore, sons get a better treatment from parents from birth. From food, clothes, education and hobbies the girl is forced to sacrifice for the brother. Basically, from the day a child is conceived, Indian parents put a value on the child. There is a profit and loss motive in child upbringing.

With these values apparent in the household from childhood, is it surprising that Indians ethical values are confused? Can a child raised on the basis of returns s/he will bring to the parents on becoming an adult, consider emotions and principles above money? Are parents raising kids or cattle for sale?

2. Indian Youth

Indian parents tom-tom about their love for their children and their dedication to keep the children with them. They look down on their western counterparts, who let the kids leave home between the age of 16-20 years to live on their own. In India, 30 year old unmarried sons and daughters can also be found living with their parents. It arises from an attempt to control who the youngster marries, specially for sons, so that a big fat dowry can be earned.

In respect to daughters, it is a need to keep their image unsullied. A daughter having an affair is a no-no among conservative families. Good girls don’t have relationship with boys. While the boys can have relationships with girls, and any girl who has a sexual relationship with a boy is of loose moral character. It it surprising that with this culture, Indian youth does not have normal relationships with the opposite gender.

India is the 4th most unsafe place in the world. Eve teasing or sexual harassment is rampant and young Indian women endure comments from men even when walking to office at 9 a.m. According to a survey of developing nations, Indian men are the most sexually violent, with 24% having committed a sexual crime. Another survey states 65% men believe sometimes a women deserves to be beaten. With these results and mindset, can one ensure gender equality at work?

An Indian’s professional mentor/buddy in the first job is the person who teaches them to fudge the reimbursement bills of their salary. For instance, employees are entitled to medical reimbursements. The friendly mentor will share information of a medical store from where fraudulent medical bills can be obtained by giving a cut.

After being raised in this culture, can Indian youth have independent thinking, proper adult relationships and professional values? Most lip sync their parents’ desires for them, rather than discovering and understanding their own being. Abnormal behavior – living with one’s parents in adulthood, harassing opposite gender – is socially considered normal. Normal behavior of having adult relationships, independent living and maintaining professional ethics, may make the youth a social outcast. After being raised in this social climate, can Indian youth make India the next superpower?

3. Indian Marriage

The biggest trade in India, is of arranged marriages. Marriages aren’t made in heaven, they are negotiated for the best deal. The sons are put up for sale and the daughters’ fathers attempts to purchase the best available husband for her, according to their financial position.

If one sees it from an economic angle, the husband to provide for the wife lifelong, takes upfront payment from his wife’s father. Looking from another angle, the woman gets a man to have sex with her for life after being paid by her father. Prostitution is illegal in India, and prostitutes are looked down upon. But sale and purchase of husband and wife is a socially accepted norm.

In rural areas, the situation is worse. If a couple belonging to different castes falls in love, the male members of the girl’s family do honor killing, they kill the couple. It is a crime to fall in love, and humiliating for the parents. From all this one can conclude that Indian rational of honor, esteem and self-respect is quite contrary to human race.

Even divorce involves social stigma. In reality, 90% of urban husbands have had extra marital affairs. Most of the urban wives are educated but don’t leave their marriages even after being aware of the affair, as their standard of living will become lower. India has one of the lowest divorce rates with just one in a hundred marriages collapsing. There are just around 10,000 or so divorce cases filed each year. Despite the fact that there were 8391 dowry deaths in 2010 and 90,000 cases of torture and cruelty towards women by their husbands. This is when most women don’t report to police due to sense of social shame. Aren’t the numbers ironical. Abusing women is considered a social privilege of the Indian male. Moreover, educated women prefer to take abuse rather than stand on their own two feet and earn their living.

Closing Thoughts

Can Indian marriages teach valuing human emotions when they are nothing more than a financial transaction? After parent-child relationship, the second most precious relationship is of husband-wife. In India, both have monetary values attached to it. When critical relationships are not based on ethics, what is the probability of the society respecting professional ethics?

Indian ideas of honor, respect, ethics and principles are bunkum. A thief steals a women’s purse, he is a criminal. A  husband steals his wife’s dignity and her father’s retirement saving, he is respectable. It is a case of sacrificing rational thinking to camouflage social ills.

Last week, the government issued a “White paper on black money”. The paper describes ways and methods to curb corruption and reduce black money. However, with this social environment, the best efforts are likely to fail. Can an average Indian be considered as having a fully developed “Conscience”? Anywhere close to spiritual awakening? What do you think?

References:

  1. Disappearing Daughters: Women pregnant with Girls pressured into abortion
  2. Divorce Rate High Among Indian Techies
  3. Dowry murders in India result in few convictions
  4. Indian men most sexually violent, says survey of six developing nations
  5. International Center for Research on Women

Diversity Management Risks in Global Organizations

Barack Obama in his autobiography “Dreams of My Father” reflects  “where do I belong?”. Being a child of parents of different races and religions, he spent a childhood searching his identity. Bill Clinton in his autobiography “My Life” discusses a white child’s perspective on segregation of schools in America in 1950s. Both men grew up without their real fathers presence; Obama’s lived in Kenya and Clinton’s lost his real father before birth in a car accident. Their step-fathers didn’t play an important role in building their characters, both attribute their mothers for raising and guiding them.  The personalities reflected in the books are different. Obama comes across as an intellectual and philosophical man, Clinton appears to be a people person and detail oriented. However, Americans and worldwide public had remarkably different viewpoints just because of the color of the skin.

Moreover, their religious faith did swing some votes in their favor. Barack Obama’s credibility is still questioned by opponents by stating that his grandfather was a Muslim, hence Obama cannot be following Christianity. Even in the world super power politics, race and religion play an important role. The more recent case is of Nicky Haley stating she has converted from Sikhism to Christianity. She is an Indian born in US, with the name Nimrata Rhandawa married to Michael Haley. That she felt the need to convert, and was questioned by a Time magazine reporter as to whether she will give a bigger tip to Sikh cab drivers, depicts the hypocrisy of choosing candidates based on performance, ideologies and meritocracy.

Closer home in India, religion still plays a major role in politics. Dynastic politics prevails and even the first family of Indian politics projects belief in Hinduism. It is ironical that the family is secular in religious belief, however, has to present themselves as Hindus for public consumption. As per historical records Indira Gandhi a Kashmiri Brahmin (Hindu) married Feroze Ghandi, a Zoroastrian. To prevail politically, the surname spelling was changed to Gandhi, making it sound similar to Mahatma Gandhi, though there was no family connection. Rumors prevail that Feroze Ghandi by birth was a Muslim. Their first son Rajiv Gandhi, married Antonia Edvige Albina Maino (Sonia Gandhi), an Italian Christian and the second son Sanjay Gandhi married Maneka Anand,a Sikh.  However, the next generation of Gandhi’s – Rahul, Priyanka and Varun – publicly follow Hinduism.

Can’t blame them, because in India religion and region bias are huge. South Indians will view North Indians suspiciously and vis-a-versa. Among South Indians, the Telugu and Tamils will fight, whereas in North India the Punjabis and Jats will battle for superiority. Worse, grouping also  occurs on bases of caste and sub-castes. In such a scenario, with globalization, can organizations really ensure unbiased behavior and decisions on race and religion? Is it possible to wade out prejudices, suspicions and intolerance for a few hours at work, and come home to indulge in the same?

The challenges for organizations are mind-boggling due to technological advancement. As in this wordpress blog where readers from 50 countries visit daily to read posts, in global organizations faith, philosophies, ideologies, race and religion of employees are quite different. Homogeneous behavior cannot be brought about by a code of conduct or compliance team. Meritocracy can win only when it is built into the culture of the organization, else the spirit of the organization will be in tatters due to the dichotomies in employees faiths and beliefs. Hence, let us take a look at diversity management risks in multinational organizations.

1. Regulations of various countries.

Labor laws relating to age, race, religion and gender differ among countries depending on the legal, political and cultural environments. Additionally, in large countries, for instance US or India, they differ state wise and some vary according to industry. Therefore, multinational organizations have to devise policies and procedures on diversity management according to the laws of the country in which head quarters is located, and international operations.  Compliance to various laws and regulations can be a challenging task and head office may not have the full picture.

2. Variance in local cultures

Local cultures impact diversity management initiatives of multinationals. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, women sit separately in a room and do not mix with the men in office. In India, the number of local languages tend to group people of a state together. Hence, the status of embedding diversity management initiatives in head office and regional offices may differ significantly. Cultural integration may become difficult due to behavioral attitudes. For instance, Americans are more outspoken and aggressive in nature, whereas Indians are diffident and respectful. Due to these aspects, global communication and integration plans have to be adopted to local environment.

3. Anti-discrimination protection

The effectiveness of anti-discrimination protection is dependent on enforcing laws and the judicial environment in the country. For example, in US a number of discrimination cases are filed by employees and huge penalties are levied on the organizations. However, in India, though similar laws exist, there is hardly an instance where a case is filed by an employee on the basis of discrimination, as there is minimal possibility of employee winning the case against a large organization. To ensure same level of adherence is maintained at head office and regional offices, diversity management officers need to play a critical role.

 4. Increase in workplace violence

Globally and in India, workplace violence is increasing. Employees report increasing number of cases of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and physical threats in various surveys. Here again, a group or individual  belonging to a specific race or religion may get mobbed by the majority, depending on the political climate in the country. Hence, the challenge for multinationals again is that similar laws may not exist in other countries. For example, India still doesn’t have an act passed on sexual harassment in workplace, though the bill has been pending in the parliament for sometime. Therefore, awareness levels of these issues differs in various countries. Multinationals, to bring uniformity need to have extensive training in regional offices and subsidiaries.

5. Mergers and Acquisitions

With the ongoing trend of multinationals acquiring companies in different countries, addressing diversity issues becomes critical. Mergers fail, due to failure in culture alignment and not because of failure in merging financial numbers. Post merger, for cultural integration one of the first things to do is devise a strategy for diversity management and implement the same.

Closing Thoughts

An extremely complex subject that impacts organizations especially those with international operations, at three levels – customers, productivity and staffing. However, it is often ignored by the management and definitely by risk managers and auditors. Very few risk managers do a human resource risk assessment, hence these problems continue to brew within the organization, till the culture becomes toxic or legal cases are filed. Hence, it is a good move to develop global and local diversity management strategies and implement the same. Indian organizations can take a leaf out of US organizations, and start appointing diversity management officers.

References:

Workforce diversity initiatives by US Multinationals in Europe – Mary Lou Egan.. Marc Bendick, Jr.

Recruitment in Dysfunctional Organizations

Six months back you landed your dream job, the pay was great with an incredible job profile and a company brand name to match. Now you are not sure what you have gotten yourself into. You are perpetually asking yourself – should you continue or quit? You are asked to compromise personal values on a daily basis for showing loyalty to your boss and company. The situation that you are in, is not out of the best practices of human resource management or ethical culture, you have joined a dysfunctional organization. Putting it another way, an organization with a deviant corporate culture.

Employees face incredible personal and professional risks on joining an organization with a deviant culture. On the face of it, initially, everything looks unbelievably good. As the layers are peeled off, the employees feel they are in a sinister environment and are swallowed in quicksand. The walls of silence maintained ensure that employees do not discuss these concerns openly and fear of retaliation forces them to comply. Employees deceive themselves into believing that these unethical activities they are doing are just for a short time, and the situation will improve in a short while. A cold hard look is required in such circumstances, to understand the symptoms and take a decision.

The paper “Organi-cultural Deviance: Socialization of Individuals into Deviant Culture”, describes the process of individual indoctrination into the culture. A new employee goes through five stages of socialization into the workplace according to Wanous research. These are:

a) confront the reality of the new job –newcomers adjust their expectations to the reality of the job;

b) achieve role clarity-newcomers learn and negotiate the expectations and requirements of their roles in the organization;

c) locate oneself in the organization-newcomers learn how their work contributes to the work of the organization;

d) assess success-newcomers assess the value of their contributions to the organization; and

e) during the stages of socialization, the individual learns the language of the organization.

The above mentioned process is adopted by employees in a regular organization in the probation period, that varies from 3-6 months in most companies. In a deviant organization culture, the employee starts feeling the social pressure to comply to unethical practices and lose individual identity in this period. The process of indoctrination describes how the individual “self” is socialized into a deviant organization culture. The stages are as follows:

1) Stage I - In normal course of action, an individual has various separate identities, that they maintain to lead a fulfilling life. For instance, the employee has a work identity, a social identity, a family identity etc. In a deviant organization, these identities are slowly stripped away, and the employee is completely dependent on the organization identity. The employee is lured by big rewards to compromise their individual identity for the organization.

Since, the employee is still in probationary period, the fear of job loss makes them succumb to group think. The organization or group attempts to brain wash the individual by giving justification of the behavior for altruistic purposes. For instance, they will ask to humiliate or harass another person or employee, to improve the harassed person’s behavior. The justification given will be that it is for the betterment of the victim, rather than accepting that they are indulging in socially unacceptable behavior. Further on, they are asked to indulge in degrading activity for the sake of fun. In the book “The Wolf of Wall Street” Jordon Belfort describes activities at Stratton. He mentioned that seniors in the company had free for all sex discussion in the morning meetings and to boost morale arranged depraved acts. For example, in one case, they cut hair of female employee with her agreement in the conference room. Women employees especially have a tough time as they are mostly treated as sex objects.

2) Stage II -  In this phase the employee becomes dependent on the organization and the psychological chains tighten. The idea initially sold to the individual is that the group has an altruistic purpose and is for the benefit of the society.  The individual is forced into thinking that the rules of the group must be obeyed at all personal costs and no dissenting views are permitted. Employees are rewarded amply for complete compliance and punished severely for disagreement and disobedience. The individual is encouraged to share vulnerabilities and weaknesses with the group, and these are used to exact compliance to group. Simultaneously, fear and threat are used if an individual wishes to leave the group. The group follows its own code of conduct and uses loaded language and signs to communicate.

In this situation, the individual is indirectly commanded to put his/her personal and family needs over the group or organization. An article of Vanity Fair titled “Lehman’s Desperate Housewives”  narrates the situation from Vicky Ward’s book -“The Devil’s Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers” at Lehman before collapse. It says -

Lehman Brothers C.E.O. Dick Fuld expected his top executives to get married, and stay married. For their wives, the firm was both fishbowl and shark tank, with unwritten rules about the clothes they wore, the charities they supported, and the hikes they took at the company’s Sun Valley retreats.

One of the senior executives wife described her child delivery with these words -

“I was in labor with our daughter and had to lie there without him … but I wouldn’t get mad at him—he had called the entire Hong Kong office in for a meeting. We knew that it would have been used against him. If you made a personal choice that hurt Lehman, it was over for you.

Stage III – In the last stage, the indoctrination is complete. The individual’s motivation, judgments and perceptions are transformed as the person becomes a member. The individual derives his identity from the group or organization and opinions from outside the group are completely discarded. Any information that contradicts  the groups perception is considered harmful for group unity and the sender/ giver of the information is attacked. The individual has no freedom of action and blindly obeys instructions of the group. Unfortunately, the leaders and existing members of the group have so ingrained the thought pattern of socially and psychologically harmful behavior that they lose insight of right versus wrong.

For instance, as in the case of Enron or the more recent “News of the World” phone hacking scandal, seniors knew of the unethical and fraudulent activities being conducted in the organization. Some even know the details but will not take any concrete action to bring change.

Whether this culture sets in large organizations or small social groups, the psychological pattern is established for deviant behavior. The longer the person is a member of the group, the less probability exists of the person being able to see a true reflection of themselves. All inputs from group outsiders of logical, rational and socially acceptable behavior are disregarded and members adopt a posture of willful blindness. The members continue to compromise their morals for financial, physical and social security.

Closing Thoughts

Deviant cultures are set up by leaders in powerful positions with derailment attributes. However, once the culture is established in a social or corporate organization, it is hard to re-establish normal behavior patterns. People have a choice to either comply or be isolated. To avoid the social, physical and financial threats most compromise their morals and show unquestioning alliance to the more powerful people. Either an internal revolution by the members or  intervention from external parties can break the psychic trap established in such organizations. An individual’s best option is not to join such a group or organization, and if they have mistakenly joined it, leave at the earliest possible point. Else, the life course for unethical and criminal behavior is established without a return ticket.
References:

A Women’s Day Special – Play with Colors of Life

“How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”   ― Anaïs Nin

Women are smart. They demand equality and have a special day for women. Men claim superiority and have no men’s day. One can say the rest of the days are of them, but are they? The male gender suffers; poor chaps can’t even protest as it isn’t a masculine trait to show weakness. Women can complain, shed tears, howl their heart out and it reflects feminine traits. Mothers teach sons – boys don’t cry. Wives complain – Husbands are unemotional. Haven’t women successfully shackled men in a stereotypical image from birth?

Shouldn’t women be fighting for the male cause to bring in some emotional gender equality? Shall we start by being a bit more honest ? Lets discuss some of the things that women should do for themselves and the male gender on this women’s day.

1. Miss Goody Two Shoes

Men are convinced women are more principled, honest and virtuous than them. Women have done a wonderful job of personal brand building. Most haven’t got their hands dirty publicly. However, surveys say women participate equally in sexual harassment in offices and are showing increasing propensity to commit white collar crime as their ratios improve in the workforce. Moreover, they backbite, rumor monger, tattletale and indirectly bully more than men in offices. Women are more likely to use sex to get a promotion. Yes, some strategically decide to sleep with the boss to boost their careers.

Women play an equal role in making destructive management practices flourish in an organization and do not hesitate to use them for personal gain. Let us stop playing the blame game and take ownership to improve the work climate within our organizations.

2. Women’s Worst Enemies

Women undercut women. They make loud claims that male gender does not support them. However, women make bad bosses to junior women. Women ruin careers of aspiring young women to remove competition. They feel insecure if men give attention to a younger woman, hence damage the youngsters chances of succeeding. If a senior male wishes to harass a young female, he uses her female colleagues to do so to avoid sexual harassment charges.

While women target the men’s club for all the negative events happening to them, they fail to collaborate to form a women’s club. With 20-50% female workforce in offices, female leaders need to push for reforms in their offices that benefit the gender. Laying the blame on male CXOs door doesn’t absolve women leaders of their responsibilities.

3. The Sacrificing Souls

Women undersell themselves by portraying the picture of sacrificing souls. At every opportunity they lament about the difficulties of being a mother and a career women. Yes, they have to make sacrifices but so do men, specially single dads. It is difficult but stop crying about it all the time. As Gloria Steimen said- “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.” 

Being successful is about managing different priorities effectively. Have you seen successful men or women incessantly talking about the same universal issue? Husband, kids and career are a woman’s personal choice, hence its an individual decision. No man or woman is going to get all three handed on a silver platter for all times. There is no point in attempting to win the corporate battle using these tactics.

Closing Thoughts

Fight the battle of equality on ethical and principled grounds, without playing the victim. Successful women don’t enact the damsel in distress routines while pointing fingers at others. Quit complaining and enjoy the colors of life. Be fair, be just and give both genders an equal chance of succeeding on merit and talent.

I know, women will be mad at me for writing this post.  But what to do, 90% of my readers are men :).

Wishing all my readers a special women’s day and a happy Holi.