‘At TechM, senior mocked me for being gay’

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on September 11, 2018 Published on September 11, 2018

Former employee claims superior harassed him;Group Chairman Anand Mahindra steps in

Gaurav Probir Pramanik, who has faced bullying since childhood because of his sexual orientation, took to Twitter on Tuesday to talk about how he was mocked even at the workplace, while working for Tech Mahindra in 2015.

In a Twitter post, Pramanik alleged that Richa Gautam, the then global head of training at Tech Mahindra’s Business Services Group, constantly mocked the colour of his clothes and his “effeminate” behaviour. He said this was a key reason for his quitting the company three years ago. Pramanik claimed he had been mum since then as he was awaiting the Supreme Court verdict on Section 377.

Pramanik posted screenshots of a letter he wrote to Richa, who headed the company’s Anti Sexual Harassment Committee, and was then Chief Diversity and Inclusivity Officer at Tech Mahindra, blaming her for constant attacks because of his sexual orientation. “I was constantly told that I was effeminate and that it affected my work. And since that was being done by the global head of training, who headed the company’s Anti Sexual Harassment Committee, I had nowhere else to report the incidents,” Pramanik told BusinessLine.

With the Supreme Court decriminalising gay sex by scrapping some provisions of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, questions have arisen about how corporate houses are dealing with gender diversity.

Pramanik, who was Asssistant Manager for Training, said the bullying had a cascading effect on the team’s culture. “As the top boss expressed so much hatred towards homosexuals, even the other team-mates started bullying me. It was turning into an organisation culture.”

Top brass responds

As Pramanik took to Twitter to share his trauma, M&M Chairman Anand Mahindra responded to him, promising prompt action. “I can categorically assure you that we celebrate diversity in our workplace. Our Code of Conduct is explicit on this subject...TechM is investigating these allegations, and appropriate action will follow...” Mahindra wrote.

Even CP Gurnani, CEO at Tech Mahindra, responded: “Gaurav, you have my personal assurance that this will be thoroughly investigated. We remain committed to supporting and promoting a diverse workforce at TechM.” Pramanik confirmed that he was approached by Tech Mahindra to initiate an inquiry.

Experts believe that a diversity policy alone is inadequate to ensure a conducive work environment for sexual minorities. “Start-ups understand LGBTQ culture, but conventional companies, even in the tech world, treat it as taboo. Earlier, it was a clear barrier but since the Supreme Court judgåément, there’s a silent barrier. India is still living in the 18th century. It will take several years for the biases to change in the country. The Supreme Court verdict is just the stepping stone,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, CEO at The Head Hunters India.

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Published on September 11, 2018
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