Discrimination rampant in the corporate world in India

Lack of awareness about what constitutes discrimination is widespread in the Indian corporate world and elsewhere.  In interviews, you get asked about your age, marital status, number of children and other personal details.  Your grade in high school (i am serious) or for that matter, any criterion the management deems important. Probably because we have so many applicants for any job, we can use any yardstick. If  the yardstick is discriminatory, who cares? I was shocked to see job advertisements in the newspaper, openly saying that if you are not in a particular age band, you are not eligible.  Here is an example which asks for a sales executive below the age of 40 years.  Gender insensitivity, you ask? Case in point –  a recent interview given a SVP of HR of a leading IT company.  <Via Desipundit/Emma> Just to be sure that this is not an anomaly, here is another interview given by a VP of a Hospitality Company. I think, these are just examples that are symptomatic of the overall attitudes prevailing. Is it any surprise that we need affirmative action? If you think this is restricted to the corporate world, wait till you here about school admissions all the way down to kinder garten. Recently, Delhi high court has banned interviews of students and/or their parents for kinder garten admissions. There are some elite schools in Chennai (this is anecdotal, i have heard it from several sources and i believe its true) which impose some draconian conditions:  the student’s parents need to have professional degrees, mom has to be stay-at-home, grandparents need to be educated, parents should subject themselves to an interview… the list goes on. Yet, parents still want to get their childdren into these elite schools.
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  1. Anonymous said May 11, 2006, 12:23 am:

    The HR SVP interview made my skin crawl. Certainly, we need affirmative action to help bridge some of the gaps that we see today.

    More importantly, we need more exposure and a heavy dose of common sense. People are not even aware that what they say and do are discriminatory. How else would we fix the “Family women fit better in senior management roles” attitude?

  2. Anonymous said May 11, 2006, 6:23 am:

    I am with you Sreedhar. I had similar feelings when i read the interviews. I am thinking the HR departments of various corporates should try to integrate with global HR organizations and exchange training and best practices so that we can become better as a country. Our IT practices have certainly improved, thanks to the globalization in that sector. I hope something happens on this sooner than later.

  3. Anonymous said May 12, 2006, 1:30 am:

    Disclaimer: I am not justifying discrimination in anyway shape or form. This blog just got me thinking about why some of these folks do what they do, and this just a train of thought that emanated from there!!

    Are we Indians naturally more inquisitive than other cultures/societies? Why do we feel no qualms about intruding/interfering into others life? Do we as a society just love to live vicariously through others? Why?

    Is it because even though joint family as a concept is on the wane, we still cannot get rid of it emotionally?

    Did we inherit this intrusion mentality from our previous generation – born between 1940s and 1960s? They grew up in what I call the ‘public sector culture’ – where most of the jobs (both public and private sector jobs) were a 9 to 5 affair and the job itself was not that satisfying. And a good percentage of the women in the previous generation were stay at home moms. So they had more time in their hands to gossip, intrude into their neighbor/relatives affairs?

    I understand that there are some benefits to everyone being everyone else’s friendly neighbor. But still the lack of emotional space can be suffocating.

    During my last two trips to India, I was surprised to hear from my friends that some of them did not even know their neighbors names. And even when they did, they interacted mostly on a ‘hi-bye’ basis. But, in such situations, not surprisingly, both partners in the marriage had a job. And these were not the 9-5 types mentioned above. So, the job of having a job and running their home, taking care of their kids kept them more than busy. Any kind of serious socialization was a premium and hence was restricted to their immediate families. Of course, the current generation is also becoming very individualistic.

    And as mentioned by both Sukumar and Sreedhar – with the awareness, integration and adoption of good practices in the HR area, things will change for the better.

    On a slightly different note: Thinking about generation gap reminded me of the final scene in “Hey Ram” and the generational differences.

    Our (people in the 30-50 year range) grand father’s generation had a common goal – Independence. This generation had a cause to fight for and was focused in achieving that.

    Once we got the independence – lethargy set in – and this was our father’s generation – which got mired in the ‘public sector culture’. This generation was averse to risk taking and the environment they lived in and a socialist government did not help in this cause.

    My generation is the sandwich generation – one that was not that afraid of taking risks, but still had the save first mentality of the previous generation. This generation joined the work force around the same time government started to open its market.

    The current generation is what I call the ‘media’ generation – very media savvy, very aware of their individuality and not averse to taking to risks. Looks like this generation also values its independence and self-esteem more than money (or Am I wrong in this?). They seem to realize that, with the market opening up, jobs will come their way – if they work hard. Also, they have started to realize that there are ‘other’ profession besides medical and engineering!! I have heard more than one story where someone gave up their engineering job to pursue another line of work – the one they had real passion for.

    Interesting times ahead!!

  4. Anonymous said May 12, 2006, 9:57 am:


    Great set of comments with a lot of insights. Its a pity that its buried in comments. Maybe you should write a post on this subject when you find the time.

    I think we are slowly becoming as individualistic as the Americans atleast in the metros.

    Like you say, interesting times ahead!

  5. Anonymous said May 12, 2006, 12:40 pm:

    Sadly, there are too many clueless people in corporate India. I think large companies like Satyam – should have a policy: If you want to be a HR VP, you should have spent at least 5 years as a manager in a first world country.