Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam, Sandeep Suman
All eyes are on Flipkart as CEO and co-founder of the e-commerce giant, Binny Bansal, voluntarily stepped down in a company-wide mail earlier last week, just one day after parent company Walmart announced an independent probe into allegations of “personal misconduct”, and on the basis of a “lack of transparency”.
The power shake-up, that sent reverberations throughout the tech corridors of control, was received in an atmosphere of confusion, with company replies and Bansal’s own statement reeking of vagueness and carefully worded statements, that gave away far too less about the situation.
“The allegations left me stunned and I strongly deny them. The investigation, however, did bring to light lapses in judgement, particularly a lack of transparency, related to how I responded to the situation. These have been challenging times for my family and me. I am concerned that this may become a distraction for the company and the team. In light of these circumstances, I feel it is best to step away as chairman and group CEO.”Binny Bansal, in a company-wide mail
While there is no wonder that Walmart exercised its authority in the post Me Too-world, there is something to be unpacked about the manner of Bansal’s exit.
Young developers, engineers and software professionals from Bengaluru expressed their shock at the development, but were divided on what might have transpired.
Ashok V Nair, Lead Director, Access Healthcare Services said that he did not think this was a case that came under the ambit of the MeToo movement.
“On Binny Bansal’s resignation from Flipkart, this is not a case that falls under the MeToo movement, which is a clear distinction of the victim calling out his or her abuser openly, with the intention of publicly bringing out the abuser’s misconduct. Here we have a zealous new entity that is making inroads into the Indian market, after a very long wait – yes, we are talking about Walmart,” he said.
But Others Believed a Zero-Tolerance Policy was Encouraging
“So, what is amazing is that how clearly Walmart took a stand. They were very sure they have a zero-tolerance policy and everything was defined out. But in India, what we see is that everyone is still so unsure and we are still not clear about what is the definition, what are the consequences, what are the courses of action in the case of sexual harassment or misconduct, and that’s scary.”Parvathi Mohan, Product Manager, Quintype
While questions on the details of the power shake-up still loom large, with the official line still holding “lack of transparency” and “lapses in judgement” as the cause, more information is sure to come out and lend clarity.
In the meantime, techies are happy that this has led to a deeper dialogue when it comes to addressing misconduct at the workplace.
Abhimanyu MA, Founding Engineer, Sensibull said that:
“When we talk about consensual relationships especially when there is a power asymmetry, it gets even more complicated. Many of these do turn sour, and abusive and manipulative and it does contribute to the general toxic culture of harassment. We have to deal with them and we have to have proper systems to deal with them. So, I think, as companies there should be guidelines not just at the base level of preventing clearly illegal harassment, or illegal liabilities but look at a more generalized picture of how can we have a proper work environment, which is healthy and where there isn’t a scope for abuse. “