IIBMS – PREJUDICES IN WORKPLACES : REAL OR PERCEIVED ?

Case 2: IIBMS – PREJUDICES IN WORKPLACES : REAL OR PERCEIVED ? IIBMS – PREJUDICES IN WORKPLACES : REAL OR PERCEIVED Manjula Srivastav had been head of marketing for the last four years at Blue Chips, a computer products firm.  The company’s turnover had increased by two – and a half times during the period and its market share in a number of precuts had also moved up marginally.  What was creditable was that all this had happened in an environment in which computer prices had been crashing. Although she had a talent for striking an instant report with people – particularly with the company’s dealers – Srivastav often found herself battling against odds, as she perceived it, as far as her relationships with her subordinates and peers in the company were concerned.  Srivastav had to fight male prejudice all the way.  She found it unfair that she had to prove herself regularly at work and she used to make her displeasure on that score quite obvious to everyone. Six months ago, Blue Chips had been taken over by an industrial group which had a diversity of business interests and was, more importantly, flush with funds.  The change of ownership had led to a replacement of the managing director, but it had not affected the existing core management team.  Anand Prakash, the new managing director, had his priorities clear.  “Blue Chips will go international,” he had declared in the first executive committee meeting, “and exports will be our first concern.” Prakash had also brought in Harish Naik as his executive assistant with special responsibility for exports. Naik had been seconded to Srivastav for five weeks as a part of a familiarization programme.  Much to her surprise, he had been appointed, within two months, as the vice president (exports), with compensation and perks higher than her own.  Srivastav had made a formal protest to Prakash who had assured her that he was aware of her good work in the company and that she would have an appropriate role once the restructuring plan he was already working on would by put into effect. One morning, as she entered the office and switched on her workstation, a message flashed on her screen.  It was from Prakash. “Want to see you sometime today regarding restructuring.  Will 2.30 be convenient?” It went. Later at his office, Prakash had come straight to the point.  He wanted to create a new post called general manager (public affairs) in the company. “With your excellent background in customer relations and connections with the dealer network, you are the ideal material for the job,” he said, “and I am offering it to you.” Srivastav was quick to react.  “There is very little I can contribute in that kind of job,” she said.  “I was in fact expecting to be promoted as vice president (home marketing).” Prakash said that the entire gamut of marketing functions would be looked after by Naik who would have boardroom responsibility for both domestic and export sales.  “If you continue in marketing, you will have to be reporting to Naik which I thought may not be fair to you.  In any case, we need someone who is strong in marketing to handle public affairs.  Let me assure you that the new post I am offering will in no way diminish your importance in the company.  You will in fact be reporting to me directly.” “You are being unfair and your are diminishing my importance in the company,” reported Srivastav. “You know that I am a hardcore marketing professional and you also know I am the best.  Why then am I being deprived of a rightful promotion in marketing? Tell me,” she asked pointedly, “would you have done this to a male colleague?” “That is a hypothetical question,” said Prakash.  “But I can’t think of any other slot for you in the restructuring plan I want to implement except what I am offering.” “If the reason why you are asking me to handle this fancy public affairs business of yours,” said Srivastav, “is that you can’t think of any other slot for me, then I would have second thoughts about continuing to work for this company.” “May I reiterate,” Said Prakash, “that I value your role and its is precisely because of this that I am delegating to you the work I have been personally handling so far? May I also state that I am upgrading the job not only because it is important but also because it should match your existing stature in the organization?” “I need to think about this.  I will let you know tomorrow,” said Srivastav and left the office.             What should she do? IIBMS – PREJUDICES IN WORKPLACES : REAL OR PERCEIVED ? 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