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It’s important to applaud that Tanishq put employee safety first when faced with violence, instead of debating the rights and wrongs of putting up the ad.
Tanishq had released an ad on interfaith harmony. As per Tanishq the idea behind the Ekatvam campaign was to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness.
Unfortunately the ad caused a severe backlash, contrary to its very objective. The ad was brutally trolled across social media platforms for promoting ‘love jihad’, some also called it ‘fake secularism’. Sharing an opinion devolved into name-calling and the digital mob in no time lashed out on everyone who was associated with the ad.
Soon the discussions veered towards ‘right vs. wrong’ and ‘us vs. them.’ Tata employees, especially the ones from the Muslim community were abused, threatened, their personal contact numbers were shared on social media platforms. People were demanding sacking of employees and even directly threatening them. Store addresses were circulated across platforms with the intention to vandalize them.
It was not about criticism or social media backlash any more, it became a matter of security of company personnel. This incident shifted the spotlight firmly on employee safety and wellbeing. TATA being a humanitarian company, employee safety is its top concern; hence they decided to pull down the ad from all platforms.
In a scenario like this, shouldn’t we support TATA for taking the right decision? Shouldn’t we applaud them for putting employee welfare at the foreground?
It is totally understandable that people who didn’t find anything wrong with the ad are upset and dejected with such an action because taking the ad down feels like kneeling down before trolls; giving in to extreme pressure created by polarization. While it is imperative to push back social hooliganism, we can’t choose to ignore employee harassment or trauma.
In our pursuit to chase what’s right or what’s wrong, did we forget the employees who got threat messages on social media? They were subjected to extreme abuse and harassment for no fault of theirs. TATA has shown great courage in extending solidarity to its employees and other stake holders during such challenging times.
Showroom owners across the country also got threat messages. In Gujarat, a group barged into the showroom and forced the owner to pen down an apology letter, which was displayed outside the store. Store intrusions like these not only put a store owner’s life in danger, it puts a customer’s life also at risk.
Workplace safety is crucial, regardless of a business, its size or its industry. Without proper workplace safety measures in place, a company puts its employees and customers in danger. It isn’t enough to simply assist employees with work issues — a good company should keep its eyes open for ways to help employees with personal issues as well, if required.
Time and again we have discussed the importance of workforce safety for an organization, debated on how they should invest in good employee relationship and provide fair treatment to all. People or workforce is the most important part of any business and TATA showed us how it is done.
Often it is as simple as showing employees that they are valued, will be taken care of whenever a need arises. By taking the ad down, TATA literally secured the life of all the employees who unfairly became a target of trolls. Not only does this help in improving employee relation it also refine workplace culture.
Taking an employee-centric view of the workplace and prioritizing workers’ requirement over business will go a long way in improving morale and relationships. Providing employees value and a culture that supports them mentally and physically is vital whilst getting the best work from them.
Many argue that brands should stay away from taking a stand on social or political issues when it comes to sensitive topics. However, the challenge isn’t whether or not to engage in thorny conversations, instead, when a brand identifies opportunities to lead those discussions in a way that unites, not divides consumers, should the brand be shamed?
Every brand in some way or other is part of a society and culture at large. Culture and brands are inextricably linked. Most successful brands integrate aspects of culture into their core message, and connect their brand to events or moments that reflect what they want to stand for.When brands create, participate in and host relevant conversations, consumers feel more connected to them.
To foster genuine connection, brands need to think beyond what they sell and consider the needs and desires of the people they are selling to. A Tanishq buyer belongs to a group that is evolved, educated, is open minded towards other’s perspectives and ideas.
The brand has done some progressive work, in the past. Stories like, a woman with a child, remarrying; a 40year old woman celebrating her birthday, without worrying about getting old; grandmother suggesting granddaughter an inter cast marriage. These stories were accepted and celebrated by the ‘Tanishq audience’.
TATA therefore deserves a pat on their back for trying to break stereotypes that exist in society. With the latest Ekatvam, they pushed the envelope further. Unfortunately, the attempt was totally misconstrued and given a communal angle. Also, most importantly, the backlash was more from extremists who may be politically motivated, definitely not ‘Tanishq audience’.
Experts may continue to debate if Tanishq did the right thing by making a strong social statement or not, but we should applaud Tanishq for trying to bring together a divided society by reconnecting people with one another, at the same time when their employees lives were put at risk, they choose their employees over their business.
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Brand Strategist. Storyteller. Movie buff. Love rain, poetry and Coke Studio Pakistan, in no particular
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