An open letter to Mr. Ratan Tata.

Respected Sir,

You are one of the very few businessmen that I (and I understand, the majority of the Indian youth) idolize. Your honesty and integrity are admirable.

However, there are a few things to be brought to light with respect to TCS- the largest IT service company in India both by revenue and market capitalization. The company has almost become like a government office with all its red-tape, apathetic attitude of the employees, treatment of subordinates as bonded laborers and the abuse of power by people holding the high posts (Senior managers, Senior consultants, Resource Management Group etc).

I would now like to come straight to the point and highlight some instances of such unprofessional-ism that I have witnessed (and as a result, suffered because of) in my 2 years as a TCS-er.

1. Frequent transfers: In the past 1 year, I have been transferred 4 times and the notice period has been, in one case, of just 1 day. Also, no temporary accommodation was provided for the initial period. Sir, tell me how is a person expected to pack within a day, book a ticket (considering the current state of the Indian railways where it is a Herculean task to get a ticket either a couple of days after the window is open or in Tatkal and the sky-high prices of the airlines), find accommodation within a day in a completely strange city and report to office the next day? Also, the reimbursement is far lower than the costs incurred by the person and takes an eternity to be cleared by the authorized personnel whereas the accepted standard is less than a fortnight. 

Also, when I reported to city B after being transferred from city A, I was told that there was an error and I need to report immediately to city C (which was 200 km from city B). Is such inefficacy and carelessness a characteristic of such a reputed company?

2. Red-tape: As I have already mentioned, it takes the reimbursement process more than 4 months to complete against the set standard of around 15 days. 

I would also like to cite an incidence where I had to, after being ill-treated by my manager, raised a grievance against him. The process is still stuck in the workflow after more than 3 months, the reason being that the HR who was supposed to authorize has lower authority than the person against whom the grievance has been raised. So, I ask you Sir, is it how things are supposed to be? You see something wrong is happening and do not take any action because you are scared of the repercussions, scared of losing your job? Then what difference, if any, is there between such a great company and the government officials who don’t do their duty because they are scared of the Goonda-raj in their area?

3. Over-recruitment and cutting down on the compensation of employees: Recently, the compensation of all the people “on-bench” were slashed citing recession as the reason. The people are on bench not because they want to be, but because they are forced to due to excessive and mindless recruitment by TCS (TCS recruited over 60,000 people in the financial year 2011-12). So, instead of having so many people un-utilized, why doesn’t the company focus on recruiting less? Also the salary changes every month and the employees are not told the exact reason behind it.

4. No travel arrangements made for female employees working late night: Recently, I have had to travel from city X to City Y (separated by 30 km) for official reasons. Each time, I left after 10 pm. Still, no arrangements were made to drop me home safely. I have also faced such instances in the past and I had to suffer eve-teasing on my way back home. So, who would take responsibility for my safety? Doesn’t the Indian law specify that female employees working between 8pm and 7am be provided a company pick-up and drop?

5. Abuse of power: Many a times, when I complained about the same things as mentioned in the blog post, the only answer I got was, “TCS mein aisa hi hota hai. Ya to chup raho ya company chhod do” (“This is how things work at TCS. So, either keep quiet or else quit the company”). Tell me, is it really how things work in your company?

People are threatened with being thrown out of the company or sent to a remote location if they raise their voice against any such unethical practices being followed within the organization.

Also, another manager of mine once told me to “please” the client, whatever it takes. His exact words were, “Bahar le jao usse, so jao uske saath, jo bhi karna hai karo, but client ko khush rakho” (“Take the client out, sleep with him, do whatever it takes, but make sure that the client is pleased”). At that point of time, I was fairly new to the company. And as is the current norm, new recruits are not told about the company policy and are kept in dark about their rights.

6. Maternity leave issues: One of my friends who was pregnant was not given leave until 4 weeks before the expected delivery date  and also asked to report within less than 2 weeks after the delivery whereas Clause 4 of the MATERNITY BENEFIT ACT, 1961 clearly mentions the following points:

“Employment of, or work by, women prohibited during certain period. —

(1) No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.

(2) No woman shall work in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery of her miscarriage.

(3) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 6, no pregnant woman shall, on a request being made by her in this behalf, be required by her employer to do during the period specified in sub-section (4) any work which is of an arduous nature or which involves long hours of standing or which in any way is likely to interfere with her 

pregnancy or the normal development of the foetus, or is likely to cause her miscarriage or otherwise to adversely affect her health.

(4) The period referred to in sub-section (3) shall be –
(a) at the period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery;
(b) any period during the said period of six weeks for which the pregnant woman does not avail of leave of absence under section 6.”

7. Inefficiencies: There are many instances wherein people are transferred haphazardly from one place to another when some people are being moved in the exact opposite direction. The number of transfers can be reduced if proper planning is done.

Also, people from technical background are made to do non-technical work and vice-versa. This adds considerably to the direct and indirect training costs for the company.

And Sir, there are many other instances that go unnoticed/are suppressed by the higher officials, because most of the time, they are the ones breaking the rule/abusing their position of authority.

I would implore you to look into such matters because this is not a stand-alone case. Most of the female employees face such problems on a daily basis. And if unchecked, they will surely tarnish the reputation of the company in the long-run.

Yours Sincerely,

A disgruntled TCS-er.

(Disclaimer: This is a guest post on behalf of a female friend of mine who happens to be a TCS employee for the past 2 years and has personally experienced most of the incidents mentioned above)