Providing a valuable lesson in handling workplace harassment, Hindustan Unilever (HUL) non-executive chairman Nitin Paranjpe says that one must stand up against bullying at workplace in any form but without compromising on one’s personal value.
In a LinkedIn post, Paranjpe, who is also chief transformation officer and chief people officer at Unilever, recalls how he was bullied at his workplace until one day he answered back and stood up for himself. Calling bullying a trait that he absolutely hated because it goes against his personal values of respect and dignity.
But his boss’s working style was such that was nothing short of bullying.
“His bullying troubled me because he kept going after people, and in an Indian culture we were all brought up not to answer back to your boss. The way he managed us would take a huge toll. But one day, I’d had enough of his hectoring manner, and I did answer back. That worked. He never bullied me again,” he writes in a post.
Though, Paranjpe clarifies that although bullying stopped, he didn’t feel better. “I hated myself for being reduced to a position where I had to respond in this manner in front of so many people. I didn't sleep that night. Why? Because I felt my behaviour was below my personal values,” he shares.
He goes on to add that he felt that he didn’t behave with dignity and respect.
“I thought I did it as nicely as I could, but I should not have done it in front of the whole leadership team. I didn’t show kindness that day. No matter how badly he behaved, I still believe I should have found a better way to handle it,” he notes.
Summing up the experience, Paranjpe says that he learnt an important lesson from the episode. “do not allow bullies to make you compromise qualities you yourself hold dear,” he wrote.
Nitin Paranjpe, the 59-year-old FMCG industry leader and former marketer, has been associated with the company for more than three decades after he joined HUL in 1987 as a management trainee. Since then, Paranjpe’s rise through the ranks has been a motivational journey for many industry professionals and marketers.