This piece of news – from Bangalore Mirror – completely shook me up this morning. It is shocking at many levels. At a basic level, it is about an employee filing a police complaint against 4 of his bosses…not over a personal squabble, but over something that could impact himself and all his colleagues. Here’s the gist.
An Oracle employee says that lives of 1,200 workers are in danger. He files a police complaint, charging top bosses for the failure to ensure adequate fire safety measures in the office building. (Bangalore Mirror, February 10, 2011)
Why is it shocking? Let me list my reasons.
1. How often have you heard an existing employee filing a police complaint against 4 of his bosses? That too, for a common, larger cause? Assuming there is no other agenda (personal agenda, vendetta – I don’t know – anything is possible and I’m not naive enough to take this piece of news on face value and based on one side of the story alone), this is indeed remarkable that a man took this step for the sake of so many of his colleagues.
2. The alleged-use of an organizational harassment policy to stop him is even more bizarre, if it is indeed true. Here was a man trying to do something useful on the back of another grave tragedy (the fire at Carlton Towers, on Old Airport Road) and all that the senior management can think of is to try and stop him?
3. As a PR professional (well, not mainstream, conventional PR, but at least digital!), I find it strange that Oracle chose not to react to this story – despite 5 days of checking, by the publication. Worse, the ‘I cannot talk to you’ quip from the spokesperson! From what I notice, this is a story that can either be true or false – there’s no grey area. A visit to the building will prove whether the claim by the employee is legitimate or not and a story – a one-sided story like this – could impact the morale of other Oracle employees too. So, I really wonder why the company did not add its inputs. Were they caught off-guard? Doesn’t look like it, if you take into account the supposed 5 days they had, from the publication.
4. It is also interesting that this employee was pushed to take this issue to an authority outside the organization. His writing to Oracle’s global HR head seems like a good enough way to escalate if things failed at the local, India level. But the way his complaint was treated seems shocking, to say the least. In a perfect world, he should have ideally been praised for the effort.
I really would like to know what happens to this and particularly, the concerned employee, Sharan Desai. After a brief search online, I also noticed that all these people named in this piece (5 of them, including Sharan) don’t seem to have active social media lives…or, have made great efforts to keep them as private as possible. My idea was to see if he has ever vented about this issue in any other online forum trying to build some kind of groundswell – but, I could not find anything at all. So, at least from that point, he seems to have chosen the right forums to raise this issue.
Photo by Lars Plougmann, via Flickr.