“We don’t need no reservations….”

 Two disturbing pieces of news around the time of International Women’s Day, created a lot of heartburn for me, as I am sure they must have done for many of you. Ironically, one effort was to reward women and the other was to safeguard them but both ended up causing huge harm to women and the cause of diversity in the work place.

The first of course was the announcement by the authorities in the fair city of Gurgaon (I wonder if we can call it so?) that malls and other work places should not hire women to work beyond 8 pm, because they (the authorities that is) could not guarantee the safety of these women as they travelled back home after work. Presumably the several wolves-dressed-up-in-mens’-clothing roaming about on the roads would be on the lookout for prey after 8 pm and it was deemed more prudent to lock up the cheese than to do anything about the mice. (Pardon the confusing zoological references).

Nobody of course gave a moment’s thought to the fact that given this dictate, many employers would think twice before hiring women and consequently women would now find it doubly hard to find jobs. Stretched further, this logic foretells a horrifying future for women where, as men become increasingly uncontrollable by continuing to remain unchecked and unpunished, more restrictions are put on women.

And thus the day may not be very far away when these authorities start telling women to either remain locked up at home or indeed if they have to venture out do so wearing a burkha or under armed escort! The directive has been apparently withdrawn, but the fact that it was made in the first place, is testimony enough, to where everyone thinks the blame lies!

The other equally disastrous news was the story of a woman commander in our public airline getting promoted out of turn and merit, to meet some diversity target and causing harm to a plane while making a poor landing. Apparently she was not experienced enough but got promoted quickly ahead of Women’s Day. I don’t know the extent of veracity in this story but I strongly believe that these token promotions and reservation targets create more harm than good in the long run.

If indeed the story is true, imagine how difficult it will now be for women commanders who are probably as qualified and as meritorious as their male counterparts to get promoted with this example in front of them. Diversity is a key success driver of business results. By promoting incompetent women we will only end up invalidating this premise!

My simple request to all powers-that-be therefore is that please let us be, we don’t need your help , your reservations or support to get ahead, we will make it on our own steam . However if you could divert your energy to providing infrastructure which makes travelling at night safe for us we will be very grateful.