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  4. 'Is that your definition of ethics': Ratan Tata questions companies that lay off long-serving employees

'Is that your definition of ethics': Ratan Tata questions companies that lay off long-serving employees

Tata Group chairman emeritus Ratan Tata said retrenchment of employees by Indian companies in these COVID-19 unprecedented times is not the solution, emphasising that it was a knee-jerk reaction.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: July 24, 2020 21:03 IST
'Is that your definition of ethics': Ratan Tata questions companies that lay off long-serving employ
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'Is that your definition of ethics': Ratan Tata questions companies that lay off long-serving employees

Chairman of Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata said businesses will need to show sensitivity to all stakeholders and not just shareholders to survive post COVID-19. In an interaction with Your Story, the ace industrialist and philanthropist said Layoffs amid the pandemic was a knee-jerk reaction and shows lack of empathy among the top leadership.

“Accept that you have to change in terms of what you consider is fair and necessary in order to survive. One cannot continue to do business in certain ways and one won’t survive if you are not sensitive to all your stakeholders. Working from home is one solution. Laying-off people will not help you solve your problems as you have responsibility to those employees,” Tata said in an interaction with the website, Your Story, on Thursday.

Calling coronavirus outbreak an unprecedented crisis, Tata said that it has come at a time when the world was already grappling with economic slowdown, and stalemate between world’s largest economies like US-China, India-China.

Here are some important points made by Ratan Tata:

  • Layoffs by Indian companies amid the Covid-19 pandemic was a knee-jerk reaction and show lack of empathy among the top leadership.
  • It is impossible to survive as a company if one is not sensitive to its people.
  • Whatever your reasons may be, you have to change in terms of what you consider fair or good or necessary in order to survive.
  • Business is not only about making money. One has to do everything right and ethically for customers and stakeholders.
  • Making mistakes is a part and parcel of business. The important thing is to do the right thing at every turn and not shy away from difficult decisions.

He also touched upon the migrant crisis which plagued India’s labour force during April and May when the country was under a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The way migrant labourers were left to fend for themselves with no work, food, place to stay, speaks volumes on lack of business ethics, he said.

“These are the people who have served you all these years. Is that your definition of ethics if you treat your labour force that way. Government and ethical business have stepped in to help them,” said Tata.

Tata said that if there ever was another crisis like COVID-19, businesses would be in a better position to tackle it.

"I hope we never have another case, but if we do, I think companies will react much faster in the right way, rather than just letting people go," he said.

It is worth mentioning that Tata Group has not fired any staff, while several Indian companies have cut workforce because of lack of cash flow after the countrywide lockdown. However, the salt-to-software conglomerate has slashed salaries of its top management by up to 20 per cent. Many Tata Group firms, including its hotels, airlines, auto business, and financial services are badly hit in the pandemic-induced slowdown but have not fired employees to date.

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