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Nov 07 - Corporate arrogance and human insensitivity


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November 2007 issue of Corporate ezine PR-e-Sense focusses on "Corporate arrogance and human insensitivity". Guest Editor : Mr T S Krishna Murthy, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business
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Nov 07 - Corporate arrogance and human insensitivity

  1. 1. India’s first corporate PR ezine Issue No 21 VOL 2 Issue 9 – Nov 07 Published by Prime Point Foundation (Supported by Chennai PR Club) PR-e-FACE: From the desk of Chief Editor “Erosion of human values causes serious concern“ With the sweeping either knowingly or unknowingly. economic development Ultimately, it is the stakeholder who across the country, a faces the brunt of the Corporate serious fear has crept in arrogance and insensitivity. the minds of many people whether we are paying In view of the urgent importance of huge price of ‘human this subject, we decided to focus on values and ethics’ to earn this theme and we have identified our profits and money. Literally, many some of the ‘corporate arrogance’ of the Corporate executives at through online survey and interaction. different levels are trained to chase the money and to improve the market. We are fortunate to have Mr. T S But hardly, we find any attempt being Krishna Murthy, Former Chief Election made to infuse ‘human values and Commissioner of India as our Guest ethics’ amongst the existing and new Editor of this issue. Even when he was entrants of the Corporate world. Even heading the constitutional office of the the education system concentrates Indian Election Commission, he was more on the academic side and not on maintaining the highest level of the ‘value systems’. ‘human interaction’. His exclusive interview will be a great source of This has resulted in a serious erosion inspiration for the Corporate of values across the board. Many a Executives across the world. time, the position held by some of the Corporate Executives makes them feel K. Srinivasan more superior to others. This in turn leads them to arrogant behaviour PR-e-CISE – Inside this ezine • • Guest Editorial by Mr. T S Krishna Expert views from Mr K S Murthy and exclusive interview Viswanathan, Chief Executive with him; (India Geography), Wipro Infotech; • • Expert views from Mr. Ravi Expert views from Mr S Poddar, Chairman, National SME Rajaratnam, Tax Consultant and Forum, Confederation of Indian Columnist. Industry; December 07 issue Theme : Public Relations in Iran Guest Editor : Mr Mehdi Bagherian , Iran
  2. 2. 2 PR-e-FACE: From the desk of Guest Editor “Aim at satisfied customer to promote business excellence “ expectations of the stakeholders. In my opinion, arrogance emanates from power and wealth. Jonathan Sacks in his famous book quot;The Politics of Hopequot;(2000) (Vintage) points out the inadequacy of the State power and Business power, unless it is backed by Good Values learnt from family, religion and ethical leaders. Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility are modern jargons to reign in misuse of business power, but in actual practice it is more on paper, although there are some business houses that have excellent record in this regard. Some are not ’Corporate arrogance and human enough. insensitivity’ is indeed a very topical subject in the light of certain news The need to be sensitive to items reported recently. Arrogance stakeholders, whether corporate or and insensitivity in human beings otherwise, is all the more important in originate from anger, jealousy, ego developing economies. The developing and hatred. I am reminded of two economies suffer from illiteracy, lack famous Tirukkural couplets. The first of health care/ hygiene, poor one, freely translated says that Aram infrastructure such as transport, power (Dharma) can be attained if one can etc. In developing economies avoid jealousy, avarice, anger and especially with government controls harsh words. The second one states and licenses, business houses tend to that the wound caused by fire can be exploit, although there are honourable healed, but the wound caused by exceptions to this tendency. harsh words cannot be healed at all. Exceptions only highlight that there How true! The same is stated in are many victims to this exploitation Bhagwat Gita which states Equanimity especially among the poor ones. They is the key to ultimate peace and neither have money nor education to happiness. Saint Thyagaraja states in fight against unethical trade practices. one of his compositions that if you do not have mental coolness and poise, Another aspect of the corporate you cannot have sound health. arrogance and insensitivity is the undue delay in redressing grievances Corporate executives need to realise of the stakeholders. When I was the wisdom of such statements. Secretary Department of Company Indeed, every religion is eloquent in Affairs, I used to get innumerable stressing humaneness, empathy, complaints of investors often misled by understanding, respect for the aged misleading advertisements in which and the poor, but it looks as though leading actresses/actors/sportsmen the followers of these religions talk used to state how good the product or about it to others without practising investment was. Many investors themselves. It is unfortunate that in invested in shares and deposits in both Government and business, there companies which vanished without any are many executives who are penal consequences because of delays indifferent to the needs and in courts. The arrogant and affluent
  3. 3. 3 promoters get out in bail as the grievances. Regular Communications corporate veil shields such persons between the business community and ably supported by legal delays and stakeholders stressing the need to be loopholes. While steps were taken to humane in dealing with grievances improve investor education/ should be encouraged. Consumer awareness, very often it was too late education and Research for improving as the damage was already done. Fair Trade practices should be supported by Trade Associations and There is therefore a need for strong Government. Let it be realised that movement both by Government and satisfied customers as the goal alone Civil Society organisations to swiftly can promote excellence in businesses punish the misdemeanours of corporate leaders. Business executives and promoters need to be educated T S Krishna Murthy, Former Chief and trained to be humane in dealing Election Commissioner of India with the investors and clients PR – e- Groups – Have you joined Corporate discussion groups? Image Management Group – Second largest yahoo group on PR with nearly 1550 global members. Click here PRpoint Group - The largest Indian group for PR/CorpComm /academic professionals with 780 plus members. Click here New Media Forum Group – A group for Indian journalists with around 350 members. Click here India Vision Group – A group for Indian youth on India Vision 2020 with around 1500 members. Click here Subscribe to this ezine PR-e-Sense – Click here Nominate a Grievances Officer: Mr T S Krishna Murthy suggests to Corporate CEOs I suggest that every Company with should put up a periodical large turnover should nominate a ‘statement’ of grievances received designated ‘Grievances Officer’. and ‘redressed within the time This Officer should respond to every frame’ to the Chief Executive of the complaint or grievances received Company, who should personally from stakeholders, within a specified monitor the quantity and quality of time frame. The Grievances Officer reply. Listen to the podcast interview of Mr T S Krishna Murthy – Click here
  4. 4. 4 PR-eXCLUSIVE “Treat the persons approaching you as human beings” What are the reasons for such phenomenon? In addition to the ‘Guest Editorial’ by This is mainly due to attitude and Mr T S Krishna partly due to tension or pressure of Murthy, PR-e- work. But I don’t accept this as an Sense team excuse for an arrogance or desired to bring insensisitivity. When you are in an out his exclusive organization, you have to keep your interview on this stake holders happy. In an institution subject both in text of excellence, even the lowest person and podcast format treats the stakeholders in a dignified for the benefit of readers. In this manner. In the book ‘In search of exclusive interview with K. Srinivasan, excellence’, the author quotes a Hotel Chief Editor of PR-e-Sense, Mr Krishna receptionist talking in smile and even Murthy brings out various aspects of when the room is not available, she corporate arrogance, implications and says that she will try for some time. ways to improve the human These are all small instances that will sensitivity. Excerpts: go a long way in establishing the reputation of an organization. What are the common types of Unfortunately, in the matters involving arrogance you have come across ‘Public Relations’, the record of many in public and private sector public sector and corporate organizations ? organizations is not encouraging. Arrogance can be in words and in Toughness and arrogance – How signs. It depends upon the response do you differentiate? of the person to whom the grievance is taken. Generally, not writing replies Toughness can be of two kinds. within reasonable time, not treating Toughness in promptly communicating the person properly who comes to a decision cannot be mistaken as lodge a complaint, not treating him as arrogance. But toughness in a human being by giving due respect conveying a right decision in a wrong and dignity, not taking up the format need not necessarily be treated problems that have been brought to as arrogant behaviour. Even a good the notice for a long period. These are decision, not conveyed politely, is general instances of corporate arrogance. Toughness can be of two arrogance. Even when taking notice of kinds. A person, who is honest, some of the complaints, we have impartial and neutral in taking found the people concerned being decisions and very prompt and very rude; they don’t speak in polite efficient in communicating it, should language. In many of the Western not be considered as an arrogant countries, it is not seen. Even if they person. But on the other hand, the want to say ‘No’, it is said in a polite toughness of a person who rudely manner. Unfortunately, in our communicates, good or bad decisions country, bureaucrats and the persons is different. Arrogance does not in high positions of corporates, don’t necessarily mean that a person is even respond to phone calls or tough. Arrogance can be shown even messages left. Their behaviour hurts without toughness. Toughness is an many individuals, who are used to indication of the attitude of an prompt responses in other executive in matters relating to public organizations.
  5. 5. 5 handling. My own feeling is, a person person has paid so much of money to who is tough and who is prompt and travel from one place to another and efficient in taking decisions is certainly the Airlines is not able to explain as to better than a person who is tough, but why it could not comply with the does not take decisions. intention of the airlines or expectations of the passengers. First thing is to What are the implications for a ‘communicate’ immediately. In India, corporate, which is having human when a flight is delayed, there is insensitivity, in terms of nobody to explain at Airport as to why reputation and business? Do you and how much delay would be. An have any case studies? International traveller will feel bad, if he is not treated with human aspect I have come across many instances and information is not given. where many Corporate executives, because of their arrogance have lost When you were heading the not only their position, but also have constitutional body like Indian spoiled the image of their Election Commission, I have seen organization. A Company executive, personally, you were responding represents the company as well as to all mails and phone calls himself. If, a person who is supposed promptly, in spite of all your busy to deal with a particular problem, schedules. At that time, I saw where a stakeholder is to be some reports in the media too communicated with or informed about about your promptness. How was the decisions, is going to be rude, it possible for you? then, it affects the reputation of the company and also the individual. If You have to keep your mind clear. you go to a Bank, you don’t want to What are the priorities on which you deal with a person who is rude. Even should act immediately? On the a child does not like a person who is matters of not very important, you rude and impolite or unkind. This is a should learn to delegate. Top officials, normal psychology. Though I have unfortunately, are not in the habit of come across many cases, I don’t want delegating the functions to subordinate to specify the names. Behaviour of an officials. I used to delegate and ask executive is an important aspect of for a report at the right time. I could ‘corporate image’. That has to be find lot of time to deal with the taken care of. complaints that were coming to me or people who write to me directly. I What are your suggestions to made a point to reply those remove arrogance and human communications which were addressed insensitivity? to me personally within 24 to 48 hours; If the problems could not be Firstly, the executives have to be solved immediately, a communication trained in the art of ‘public relations’, would go informing that action was in being polite. Unfavourable decisions being taken and would come back to can be communicated more politely them later on. and more promptly. In fact, promptness is very important. Very My advice is to treat the people often, I find the arrogance is more coming to you or writing to you with reflected in the indifference to the human dignity; Write a quick reply communication received and no reply indicating your concern for his being sent on time. The affected problem; Learn to delegate person feels much more, if a reply is unimportant things to others, so that not given. Recently, we came across you don’t have to spend time on them; an airline agency, who did not give Be responsive; be responsible and be communication to the passengers. A prompt in your communication.
  6. 6. 6 PR –e- STIGE – Expert views Mr Ravi Poddar, Chairman, Ravi Auto Group, Kolkata and Chairman, National SME Forum, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) “Human values will get less attention than it got before” As India is past. The sense of belonging to the progressing organization is something which is economically, lacking and the trend is for changing What are the jobs immediately for better weak areas perquisites, rather than growing with (arrogance and the organization. human insensitivity) If organizations, attach human touch you feel that in dealing with the people at all levels, Corporates the attrition ratio will come down and need to re-examine at various consequently the customer retention functions like HR, Accounts, will also be higher. Marketing, operations, and Communication, etc. ? Today, an executive is not only judged by his performance in the overall It is now universally acknowledged development of the organization, but that the human touch is widening also the amount of profit he has between people, be it senior corporate made, during the year. Concern for managers and stakeholders, family employee grievances, social welfare owned companies and their senior and upliftment of masses are some executives or service industry players areas which are not getting the and their customers. required importance; pure profit motive is superseding all such In today’s corporate scenario, with concerns. India’s ascendancy in the global economic fora, it is imperative that we become truly responsible global What are the steps you companies. A section of business recommend to the Corporates to continues to use environmentally improve 'human sensitivity' in damaging practices caring less for the dealing with stakeholders. potential damages that it might cause. There are also examples of banking We need to focus our attention on institutions using high handedness in corporate social responsibility, collecting loan overdues from general corporate governance and all round customers, traces of pesticides in soft improvement at various levels. There drinks, use of child labour by sweet must be concern for the image of the shops and garment manufacturing company. We must encourage people companies etc. to upgrade themselves, give them proper training, help them to get The fact remains; India is growing, senior positions. This will make the business is diversifying, profits are employees feel that the company multiplying, foreign technologies are cares for their future. being used and management systems of hire and fire are being practiced in Customer complaints should be looked organizations. Certain senior into with dignity and care and free corporate managers tend to forget the replacements should not be treated as depth of the relationship which people a loss, but as an investment for had with senior management in the marketing and public relations.
  7. 7. 7 Shareholder value has to be increased and security of the planet and its by transparency, improved profitability inhabitants. and adding asset value of a company. I have personally observed that The Japanese system of looking into nearly 75 to 80 percent of the details of the need of its employees by CEOs and Top Management forming smaller groups within every executives of Indian Corporates do department should be seriously looked not respond to emails or phone into, in order to have better employee calls. Is it because 'money' takes understanding. priority over 'human values'. What would be the implications, if What are the roles you suggest to things are not corrected now? the National Industry bodies like CII, FICCI, Chambers of I do accept that top management Commerce, etc? executives, CEOs and Directors do not respond to a large number of Emails The role played by industry bodies can and phone calls. This is mainly only be of an advisory nature and they because in this electronic and should be sincere in their approach interconnected age, telemarketing and towards effective workplace email spam has led to the executive management practices. allergy in replying to regular communication from unknown Chamber of Commerce do have persons. regular training programmes, seminars and discussions on such vital issues Some of the important and I feel that the level of awareness communications get lost in the sea of has increased more within their spam and junk. Every day we receive seniors and council members, but has unsolicited advice from insurance not percolated to their general companies, banks, stock brokers and membership either due to ineffective credit card companies. In the process communication or indifferent attitude some customer’s grievances or a of their members. relative’s greetings card also gets misplaced. I think CEOs must have an Case studies and seminars to effective system of screening their showcase specific instances and communication either directly or benchmark with model global through their trusted lieutenants and companies worldwide may help as far as possible, a suitable reply implications of such necessities of should be sent to important ones. human life. We must accept the harsh reality that It is also necessary for the leading times are changing; India is now chambers to effectively lobby with the becoming a part of the global economy Central and State Governments to and Indians are becoming wealthier enact legislation which would not be and richer; the concept of personal detrimental to the economy and help touch, human values and concerns for the corporates to work in tandem with others’ difficulties will get less the Governments to ensure the safety attention than it did before.
  8. 8. 8 PR –e- STIGE – Expert views Mr K. S Viswanathan, Chief Executive - India Geography, Strategic sales and product business, Wipro Infotech , Bangalore “Accept discipline and ensure compliance to avoid human insensitivity” Q: A quick Q: Why Indian Corporates have study such 'human insensitive attitudes’ made by while dealing with human beings. us reveals Are they driven more by money that more than by human values? than 75 percent of A: In my opinion Money and Human senior values go hand in hand; either one of executives them cannot exist without the other. at all levels do not respond to Organisations are getting larger and mails or phone calls. Probably, more processes are being put in place this is the most alarming to ensure smoother engagement. phenomenon in India. – What are Processes today are taking precedence your views? and hence there could be a feeling of insensitivity. Once the process seeps A: In my opinion, the Time is at into an organization, we will be back to premium. Secondly, the organization good times again. and decision making structure are getting more empowered. Senior Q: How to rectify this dangerous executives are now today expected to situation and make them more spend time on Governance and human sensitive. Leadership rather than managing. Thirdly and most importantly, the A: In my opinion, this is not a mindset and the market are global and dangerous situation. It is a process of today's executives are spending more accepting discipline and ensuring time on travel. Because of these, compliance. Any one not compliant accessibility is getting difficult through (however good the person is) should Phone. Mail is a sure way of accessing. be dealt firmly. Senior Executives normally send the mails for action to relevant people to act and hence the perception that there is insensitivity. Can we start calling our drivers, attenders, watchmen, sweepers, and scavengers by name to give them dignity? Mr C Rajagopalachari ensured that the last person in the (popularly known as hierarchy also was treated with human Rajaji), the first dignity. Governor General of Independent India Can we try calling our peons, advised all the attenders, watchman, driver, security bureaucrats not to staff, scavengers, sweepers with their call the subordinate names from today? staff members as “peons” and instead Let us provide human dignity to the call them with their names. He fellow human beings
  9. 9. 9 PR –e- STIGE – Expert views Mr S Rajaratnam, Former Member, Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal and now Tax Consultant and columnist on Tax matters “Aggrieved persons should complain the violations, to TDS wing of Income Tax Department or Ombudsman” Q: Though the deductee. The only remedy for Government taxpayers in such cases is to await the has prescribed refund by filing return in due course. a limit for Probably the deductees, who are in a deduction of position to exercise their rights under TDS, many the consumer protection law may take corporates action for compensation for deduct TDS unnecessary trouble caused to them even for by deduction, where it is not smaller warranted. Civil action for damages amounts. This causes should be possible, but would not be inconvenience not only to the practical, unless the amount so deductees, but also to the Income wrongly deducted is of substantial Tax Department. Generally, amount. corporates do not maintain party- wise data and hence, they deduct The Income-tax Department thus far the TDS as a safety measure. has been least concerned with tax What is the remedy for the deductions wrongly made. In fact, aggrieved person? Where can he their zeal in enforcing tax deduction complain? has created a climate of such fear and apprehension, that there is A: There are numerous occasions unnecessary deduction all-round as a when taxes are deducted at source on matter of unnecessary caution. payments which do not require such deduction. It is equally true that even, Q: Many companies do not give where they are required to deduct tax, TDS certificates within reasonable such deduction is not confined to time after deduction of amount. payments exceeding the prescribed Many of them need reminders and limit. Even assuming that the limit is deliver them after a lapse of likely to be exceeded before the end of several months. What is the the year, it is enough, if such tax remedy for an aggrieved person deduction is made even for past and where can he complain, if the payments as and when the limit is corporates do not deliver the TDS exceeded. It also happens that even certificates. institutions like banks, which are expected to be more well-organised, A: Failure to issue TDS certificate as self-declaration forms in Form 15G and required under section 203 in time is Form 15H, which would spare an offence for which penalty could be deduction, are ignored. levied under section 272A(2)(g) at Rs.100 for every day’s delay. But the Where deduction is made without Income-tax Department which is keen notice in such cases, where it is not to collect the taxes, that are deducted necessary and corresponding tax rightly or wrongly, is not known to deposited with the Government by the have taken any steps to enforce the deductor, the deductor would not be timely issue of certificates against the able to refund the amount to the erring deductors.
  10. 10. 1 the Act. But this is hardly an answer, Where the certificate is not issued where the failure continues even promptly, the deductee can file a beyond this extended period. complaint with the Income-tax Department, which is bound to take To summarise action on such complaints. Authorities do not take action on their own, even The queries raised indicate that it is when they find in their records that necessary to impress the Income-tax TDS certificates filed by deductees Department to take action to ensure have been invariably issued late. In that the deductions are not made, fact, they are not so available to the where they are not necessary and to taxpayer even at the time when they ensure prompt issue of TDS file return. The response to the certificates. Remedy may be possible complaints in such cases is extension only if aggrieved parties complain to of time by two years from the end of TDS Wing of the Income-tax the assessment year for filing TDS Department and to Ombudsman, certificates under section 155(14) of where there is no response. PR –e- View – Book Review – “Ad-ventures of a PR Man” In this book “Ad-ventures of a P.R. Man”, the author Mr S N Surkund (Former Asst. General Manager, Publicity, Union Bank of India) narrates human interest stories, right from his school days at Udupi till now. The 50 plus episodes include encounters with different bosses, journalists, etc., apart from travel encounters and also many tricky and complicated on the job situations relating to Public Relations. The whims and fancies of many bosses, tantrums of media professionals, apart from encounters during travel all over India make lucid reading. This revised and enlarged second edition contains 25 additional chapters. A real hand book for young PR and Communication executives Pages 234 Price Indian Rs.395/- Special discount Author offers a special discount for the readers of this ezine. Contact
  11. 11. 1 PR –e- Survey – Corporate arrogance and human insensitivity – How people perceive? The Editorial team conducted an on-line survey during November 07 to get a ‘broad perception’ of various people on corporate arrogance and human insensitivity. Some of the perceptions expressed by the respondents are classified: Top Management Corporate Social responsibility • Not responding to emails or • CSR not being implemented phone calls, even when genuinely and used only for personally addressed. protecting their brand; • Management not understanding • Giving false promises without the media sensibility proper implementation; • Not following the rules and guidelines for environmental HR protection. • Harassing the employees with good service record when they Finance • Deduction of tax (TDS) even for leave the organizations (mostly in Public Sector orgnisations); ineligible payments, due to lack • Seniors not treating the of maintenance of records of subordinates with human vendors; • TDS certificates not being sensitivity; • Giving false promises at the issued within reasonable time. time of recruitment; • Sending appointment orders Big Corporates (including Multi- through email without being Nationals) • Not followed with a hard copy – and exhibiting ‘humility’ subsequently canceling the towards consumers - “we are order unilaterally; always right” attitude; • • Not respecting the consumer During interviews, not treating the candidates with dignity. courts and judicial systems. Security Staff • Behaviour of the front level Banks, Insurance and mobile security staff at many offices – operators • Using Corporates not training them illegal methods for well to handle the front level. recovery of their dues; • Call centres not responsive - Customer relations Not providing direct contact • Companies not respecting the with senior officials of the local cultural sensitivity; company, for any complaints. • No response to the emails or phone calls within reasonable Public Sector and other Govt. time; offices • Call Centres of • Not sensitive to customer’s Service providers not responsive and needs and irresponsible technically incompetent; behaviour at the front offices; • Declaring ‘strike’ to harass the general public, for their individual monetary benefits.
  12. 12. 1 PR eTTY - Relax - Arrogance pays back! can call him as Navin. That will also make him happy”. Parasuram got angry on the advice of Sharma. “What is wrong in calling a person, based on the job he is doing? I am doing Managerial job. Everybody calls me as ‘Manager’. That boy is doing the job of an ‘attender’ and nothing wrong in calling him as ‘attender’. I call my car driver as ‘driver’ only. He is doing driving job. Parasuram argued. Sharma kept quiet. After two days: “Attender! … Come here … handover this file to the Accounts department’ Devaki, wife of Parasuram suddenly “Attender! ….. Have you changed the fell ill and had a ‘low BP’. Immediately toner to the printer?” Parasuram rushed her to the nearby “Attender! … Get me a glass of water” Hospital and she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). He was Parasuram, the Office Manager was restless and waiting outside the ICU. ordering his subordinate staff. There were more than 50 people in the Sharma, Asst. Manager, suggested waiting hall. Parasuram. “Sir, that boy Navin is a Graduate degree holder with first class A hospital staff came out and shouted marks. Since he did not get any job, in the hall: “Who is the ‘attender’ for he has joined this office as an Devaki? Can you get these medicines ‘attender’ temporarily. Why do you from the Pharmacy immediately?” address him always as ‘attender’ for every command? You (Source: Short story by Mr C Murugesh Babu - Ananda Vikatan issue dated 25th Nov., 07) Subscribe free to unique PodMagazine PodUniversal (one stop shop for podcasts on all subjects) To know more about Corporate Podcast, visit If you are in look out for Corporate professional speakers, Visit To study the ‘hidden perception’ of your employees, visit
  13. 13. 1 PResenters of PReSENSE Guest Editor Editor Associate Editor Senior Web PodJockey Mr T S Krishna P A Narrendiran, and PodJockey consulta nt Shvetha Sridhar Murthy, Former Blue Lotus PR Veena Vinod M M Sevakumar PR Executive Chief Election Good Relations PR Rediffusion DYR Commissioner of India Publisher and Chief Editor K. Srinivasan (Prime Point Foundation) Feedback and contributions to: All the earlier issues may be downloaded from or Listen to India’s first pod-magazine one stop shop for podcasts on all subjects Do you want to subscribe to this ezine. Please click