Rising India

In the last few days, I have been invited to a few events. The Rainbow  lecture series on diversity at the House of Commons, a debate on combating violence against women and an invitation to support the screening of Girl Rising,  a film that supports the idea of educating girls. In amongst these, I was also invited to a launch of a new product by an Indian company that is government owned. The launch was at a hotel in London and was attended by well over 100 people. Champagne flowed and speeches were made but the discordant notes were the serving staff. They were all young women aged between 20 -30. Our dress code on the invitation was Indian or Smart Chic but the dress code for the servers was very tight, very small black dress, preferably with very deep neck line to show their cleavage. One young woman who may have been the head server showed a cleavage that would have put a porn star to shame. Watching these young women offer their “services” to us highlighted one of the fundamental problems that our society has. Is it necessary for women to dress scantily to provide a better service when serving food and drink? Does it add to the ambience and make the evening richer as a result or does it create a space for men to ogle. As a representative of the Indian government, had this company thought through how they were perceived? Most of us work very hard in not being biased and offering a fair and just platform to all. Yet, it is often the very basic fundamental area that is usually overlooked and it just that area that will create the problems or misunderstandings within the workplace. An ethos of a company has to be whole and all encompassing, challenging all employees to look at their biases and recognising that mixed messages only lead to confusion. So what was the message we got from this Indian company that night – we are proud to launch our new product and the best way to celebrate that is to ogle at young women. So much for the new Rising India…..

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