“Fairness and dignity of the individual is enshrined in our core values,” said Anand Mahindra responding to the controversy.

news Controversy Monday, September 17, 2018 - 15:03

An employee of Tech Mahindra was fired after being accused of discrimination and bigotry. Referred to as ‘Richa Gautam’ and the diversity and inclusion lead at Tech Mahindra by former employee Gaurav Pramanik in his account, the woman was accused of being homophobic, and making discriminatory and sexist remarks in the workplace.

Taking to Twitter, Gaurav put out screenshots of an email he wrote to Richa after the Supreme Court verdict scrapping section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised homosexuality. The email revealed that she had made homophobic comments against him and others and Islamophobic comments when he was an employee at Tech Mahindra.

Following Gaurav’s tweets, Tech Mahindra reached out to him, and subsequently, fired the accused employee. “Arising out of an investigation carried out in the matter, the concerned employee has been separated from the employment of the company with immediate effect. At Tech Mahindra, we believe in diversity & inclusion & condemn discrimination of any kind in the workplace,” Tech Mahindra said in a tweet.

On September 9, Gaurav posted screenshots of an email he had sent to Richa, calling her out on her alleged bigotry, homophobia and discriminatory remarks. He begins the message by stating that he had made a promise to write her when the archaic section 377 was scrapped by the top court.

He then recounts an incident from 2015 which left a mark on him. “Remember in 2015 when one of your managers left after much drama,” Gaurav recalls, and narrates that he had never heard of the “Global head of a department of a global company like Tech Mahindra speak so callously and in such a bigoted way and the most insulting way ever” at the gathering in question.

“Let me remind you of your words (I remember every word of it because it has stayed with me ever since), you said and I quote: When I asked him the reason, he started crying and I told him are you a gay that you are crying like this? /my rebuttal here: Why Richa, do only gay men cry, and even if he was gay how would that be a problem to you until he let it affect his work? Why the sweeping generalization and stereotyping of someone’s sexuality,” Gaurav wrote.

Richa also allegedly made another shocking remark: “If your mother is a prostitute, you’re a prostitute.” Gaurav questions her in the email as to why she would single out that profession and why she would say such a thing in a gathering of “impressionable men and women”.

He also accuses Richa of being hateful towards Muslims and homosexual people. “You called both of them names, despicable yet inane names. You brought out your true racist colours in public, and you were proud to do so,” Gaurav said in the email. Questioning why she felt entitled to say these things, Gaurav added, “You being the Chief Diversity and Inclusivity Officer at Tech Mahindra almost feels like a sick joke on us by the top management.”

Gaurav also alleges that Richa made “mocking judgements” about him and how she thought of him as “effeminate” and assumed that it affected his work. “but what affected my work was how I was treated by my leaders and how it was almost bullying and jeering that I had to undergo each day in the organisation,” he said.

The former employee then stated that he does not mean to change her opinions with this email, but wanted to call her out. “You, Mrs, Richa Gautam, are a bigot, you are vile, vitriolic and hateful. You are everything that communals and extremists are made of and luckily enough for us, the space for the likes of you is diminishing and it will soon disappear,” he wrote.

Gaurav ends the email thanking Richa for the experiences which strengthened his resolve “to call out bigots and racists at higher level”.

Apart from Tech Mahindra’s official Twitter account, Mahindra Group's Executive Chairman Anand Mahindra also responded to Gaurav’s allegations saying, “I can categorically assure you that we celebrate diversity in our workplace. Our Code of Conduct is explicit on this subject. Fairness & dignity of the individual is enshrined in our core values.” CP Gurnani, MD and CEO of the company also responded saying that the matter would be “thoroughly investigated”.

After the company fired the woman against whom Gaurav had made the allegations, he tweeted saying he felt vindicated. “Thank you to all those who've been steadfastly supporting me. I have nothing but appreciation for all your support and words of encouragement,” he said.

He also issued a press statement on the matter on Sunday, where he questioned the policy makers at Tech Mahindra as to what they would do to ensure that such incidents do not occur with others in the future.