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Seema joined the HR department of one of the multi-national companies in Gurgaon. Joining this company was her dream. But she hardly knew that her dream of years would shatter in mere 6 months of time.

 Seema was always expected to keep quiet and just do her job the way her manager wanted. The moment she tried to do something new, even laugh or mingle with her colleagues, she was asked to keep quiet. She was repeatedly told, ” You are new, you don’t know how things happen here.”

 Observing the pattern in her boss’s behavior she realized that it was being expected of her to work like the person who handled that role for the last two and half years and left the company because she was getting married. Seema was being expected to be a carbon copy of her predecessor. To make it all work she tried to fit in those expectations but soon realized that she was losing her own identity in the process.

 It would have been simpler if the story ended there! But then one day a conversation happened that changed a lot for Seema.

 The day was about to end and the workload was comparatively low. Seeing her reporting manager in a good mood, Seema decided to initiate a conversation. After a couple of pleasantries and discussing about the day her manager said, “You know Seema why I hired you” not waiting for an answer he continued, “Because I like young women employees, women below 30 are more active and smarter. It is good to have that kind of energy around especially when you spend 8-10 hours together.”

Not sure how to react, Seema smiled and gathered her courage to put her opinion forward. “Sir but that isn’t part of our policy. In fact, our strategic goal is to work on diversity.”

 The response came with big laughter, “Seema policies are meant to be written in books and not to be used in practice. If we start following all that is written then getting things done would be impossible. And then, as a matter of fact, I am working on diversity. I am hiring women. But I don’t want to hire aunties here.”

Seema’s boss continued without noticing the shock on her face, “At the end of the day it is my comfort that matters. My policy is that my subordinate should be an unmarried woman below 30. The girl before you in this role was also an unmarried young girl, she had to leave though, she wanted to get married. Seema you are new to the company, over the period of time you will understand the dynamics.”

This was too much for Seema to take in, for the past few days she was already contemplating to resign and after the conversation, she knew she was making the right decision. With no offer in hand, she decided to leave that suffocating work environment.

 Ageism, is stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age. 

Instances like these make us realize that the best of the best policies for gender diversity will not work unless and until we work on changing the mindset of people.
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Dr Aparna Sethi has authored a book ‘ Where to Draw The Line – Complicated relationships at workplace’ which is completely focused on POSH. This book is available on Amazon. //amzn.to/2Zl73WB .

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