Entrepreneurship

Odyssey of Inclusivity: An Indian IT Story

Three youngsters entered college. The first one came from a typical middle-class family. Dad had used his life savings to put him through college. He was aware of his family’s limitations. The very thought of chilling, loosening up with friends made him feel guilty. His outlook towards life was a bit too serious. The second one was a girl from a traditional conservative household. She was always taught the value of sacrifices, to put the needs of others before her. Unfortunately, her giving nature came at the cost of being unfair to herself. She was delicate, a bit too sensitive. The third one was a small-town boy. Financially well off, but no exposure to a big city and the fast life. So, he had no confidence; he felt like an outsider amongst big city and convent educated crowds. He was too simple for todays’ showbiz world.

It came as no surprise as all three, Mr Sincere, Miss Sensitive, and Mr Simple found their support system in each other and became good friends through college years. The job market was hot, and the trio got placed in decent IT companies. Before parting, they made a pact. “We shall focus on our career and fix all our weak points. Now, let us meet again only at our tenth reunion and see where life has taken us.” True to the commitment, the trio began their professional journey by turning over a new leaf.

The sincere one decided to add color to his life. He went all out to spice up his daily routine – chitchat, socializing, musical nights, and cultural programs, for that was the beauty of the IT industry. It was an extension of campus life. Over here, it was not all work.

The sensitive girl tried to be more outspoken as she worked on her emotional vulnerability. She made sure her expectations were clear to everyone and no longer tolerated nonsense. That is how IT companies worked. One had a chance to express their feelings fearlessly.

The simple boy resolved to be flamboyant. He went all out to work on his UI appearance, how he talked and dressed. In no time, he was a confident part of the mainstream. IT companies came with plenty of exposure including, training to polish individual personalities.

The trio progressed well. As the years rolled by, they rapidly climbed the hierarchy of lower levels and now were project leads and started awaiting a key mid-management promotion. They were very excited. Their tenth reunion was right around the corner – a perfect time to show off to the batch-mates. Then misfortune struck – none of them got their promotion!

The story has a familiar ring. Millions of youngsters have entered the Indian IT industry since the turn of the century. They joined amazing organizations, worked so hard on all their weak points, and yet at some stage, their career graph started plateauing.

So, what went wrong with the above youngsters? Who could they ask? Managers? But their managers hardly knew them on a personal front.

The youngsters concluded that the mystery could be solved only by the original idiots – their college friends. The trio met at the reunion. Soon they figured they were in the same boat. Now, that should have been a little consolation. But strangely, it wasn’t. For they could no longer relate to each other. They used to be a gang, no more. The very endearing quality they saw in each other had gone. Maybe the mistake was not theirs. Maybe the fault lied with their organizations for not having provided them with a balanced framework. How to be sincere; and yet be able to chill out? How to be confident; and yet be simple? How to be sensitive; and yet be outspoken? If only they had joined the right organization!

Enlightened at the reunion, the trio decided to take charge and change things; and no, they did not revert to job-hopping. For neither the employer nor the promotion was important to them anymore. All they wanted was to rise again in the eyes of their original friends. To regain their special qualities of sincerity, sensitivity, and simplicity respectively. Then something strange happened. The trio’s infectious traits rubbed on to their teammates. Mr Sincere’s teammates always had a delighted customer, thereby giving everybody breathing room to loosen up. Ms Sensitive’s teammates started reaching out to each other, thereby allowing everyone to be outspoken.

And Mr Simple’s teammates no longer felt bossed over – they rose from the shadows and became confident. In time, the trio was surrounded by beautiful relationships; the teams they had nurtured; outspoken, confident and chilled-out. They no longer felt the need for either promotion or approval of their college friends.

It is a myth that the credit of inclusivity of employees belongs to IT organizations. It is the other way around. It’s IT, employees, all together with their special qualities who have influenced the inclusivity culture in their organizations. They don’t belong to the industry; the industry belongs to them. Whether you are a girl from a small town who grew up with limited means, or you are a privileged boy from a big city; it doesn’t matter – this industry belongs equally to all new generation Indians!

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