Indian CEO slammed for saying new recruits should work 18-hour days

·3-min read

An Indian chief executive has been accused of promoting “toxic work culture” after suggesting that new recruits must put in 18 hours of work a day for the first few years of their career.

Shantanu Deshpande, the founder of Bombay Shaving Company, in a social media post on Tuesday, argued that young employees should consider doing away with a work-life balance early on in their career and “worship” their work instead.

“When you are 22 and new in your job, throw yourself into it. Eat well and stay fit, but put in the 18-hour days for at least four-five years,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“I see a lot of youngsters who watch random content all over and convince themselves that ‘work life balance, spending time with family, rejuvenation bla bla’ is important. It is, but not that early,” Mr Deshpande continued.

“Don’t do random rona-dhona [cribbing]. Take it on the chin and be relentless. You will be way better for it,” he added.

His remarks have attracted widespread anger on social media at a time when “quiet quitting” – refering to employees not working beyond their stipulated hours – is becoming a global phenomenon.

Several have called into question why doing what is agreed upon between an employer and an employee should have a pejorative term in the first place.

“Why just 18 hours, why not 24 hours,” quipped one LinkedIn user, in reply to Mr Deshpande’s remarks.

“At a time when mass layoffs by Indian startups have become a norm, Shantanu Deshpande... is not only vouching for a toxic work culture, but also justifying himself even after people have called out his opinion on LinkedIn,” wrote Anshul on Twitter.

“I feel bad for your employees,” wrote Rounak Varma.

Following the spate of angry reactions, Mr Deshpande added a note to his post, saying: “Yikes, so much hate for 18-hour days. It’s a proxy for giving your all and then some.”

Defending his company’s work culture amid criticism for his post, the chief executive wrote: “For those wondering about culture at bsc [Bombay Shaving Company], feel free to come any time or talk to any of our people.”

After a day’s worth of severe criticism, Mr Deshpande announced his departure from LinkedIn after issuing an apology to those “who were hurt” by his post.

“To those who sent nasty ‘your son is a slave owner’ messages to my parents and thousands like you - You won,” he added.