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Corporate Jun 4, 2013

Phaneesh Murthy scandal: Have moral values become irrelevant in the work place?

By Apurva Purohit

I find people use the power that social media has given them to enthusiastically and very often misguidedly, flog and flail their fellow beings without compunction. Not knowing, nor understanding all sides of the story, they jump into a controversy and gleefully start panning the spotlighted person of the hour unmercifully.

I personally like to stay away from all these 'stories of the moment' since , let's face it, we can't really know all the facts and the Indian media is not exactly known to do due diligence before they start their screaming headlines and wild accusations routine!

Having said that, on the latest corporate controversy, I just want to ask a few questions to the gentleman involved and equally to his board.

Representational Image. Reuters

Representational Image. Reuters

Based on his own admission he says he had a 'personal relationship' with a subordinate in office. I want to ask him; Don't you have a wife at home with whom you are currently married? If so, haven't you heard of the concept and more importantly, the integrity of marriage vows? And if personal integrity is of so little consequence to you, what kind of professional ethics would you have? Or should we believe a human being can be dishonest at home but will be completely honest in his corporate dealings? Is that even possible?

Let us agree the gentleman's marital relationship and what he does in or out of his marriage is none of our business. Then my second question is that when he was promising his shareholders that he would turn around the company and give them zillions of dollars' worth profit did he not also commit that he would try and run the company in a fair and transparent manner? And create a culture of trust? Isn't that what CEOs are supposed to do? If so, I wonder how 'fair and safe' the female employees of the organisation feel the culture is. Do many of them believe that the way to get ahead is to have 'personal' relationships with the boss? Or worse, I wonder what the male employees feel? That the women in the organisation can get undue benefits by virtue of their gender?

Did the board not think about all this while recruiting the CEO? Or am I missing a point? In the glitz of dollar signs and prospective profits, have basic values like honesty and integrity and building a good place to work become irrelevant today?

Frankly this story will be dead and the individual in question irrelevant by tomorrow, but the message that boards are sending out to the new generation of CEOs is; create valuation for us, we don't give a damn about your value system! And that's tragic.

by Apurva Purohit

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