On February 14, Rishad Premji, the chairman of Wipro—one of India’s leading IT companies—tweeted a quote by Bill Marklein saying, ‘Culture is how employees’ hearts and stomachs feel about Monday morning on Sunday night’.
However, recently Wipro rolled out revised call letters to the freshers who were waiting for their joining letters for the past 12 months, with lower salaries from previously promised. The freshers, who were supposed to get a salary of INR 6.5 lakh, are now getting a reduced pay of INR 3.5 lakhs. The move is widely considered as unethical.
A move, which is in stark contrast to what Rishad had said when his father, Azim Premji, retired. In a letter to the employees, Rishad Premji had said that “the greatest strength of Wipro is our people”.
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Not the first time
This is not the first time Wipro has been at the centre of a controversy regarding freshers. Previously, it had come under fire for revoking offer letters to recruited freshers. Lately, Rishad Premji has also been making waves for his controversial statements and actions.
His views on the work culture in the IT industry have caused a stir, with some applauding him for his honesty while others criticising him for being impulsive.
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In one of his recent interactions with the media, Premji expressed his views on work-from-home culture saying that employees have to come back to the office. While he was of the opinion that the hybrid work culture is the future, he emphasised the importance of physical offices, further arguing that they help in better coordination and teamwork.
Premji further said that the hybrid work model has made the industry “spoilt” and that staying connected is vital. This statement has been met with mixed reactions, with some people agreeing with Premji’s assertion that physical offices are necessary for effective collaboration and communication while others think that remote work has proven to be just as effective, with Infosys asserting that the hybrid work culture is here to stay.
Even Wipro’s own workers felt that remote work culture is not going away anytime soon. In a blog posted on Wipro’s website, the company points out that the work culture has changed drastically in the last year and it’s essential to recognise that the new work model is here to stay.
Moonlighting and Premji
Earlier also, Premji faced criticism for his comments on moonlighting, which he referred to as ‘cheating’. Taking to Twitter, he’d said, “There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating, plain and simple”.
He later clarified his statement, explaining that he was all about transparency and that organisations should have candid conversations with their employees about side gigs and personal projects.
However, it was not much later when the tech giant fired over 300 employees who were reportedly moonlighting. He emphasised that it was important to ensure that such activities are not in conflict with the company’s interests.
Premji’s impulsive nature came into the light when he fired a senior employee within ten minutes over the issue of integrity. He claimed that the policy related to integrity is black and white and that employees who violate it cannot continue working in the company.
“There is a zero-one policy for any form of integrity violation, any form of harassment. You can be me in the company and I won’t have a job if I violate one of those two,” Premji had said.
While some people concur with Premji’s no-nonsense approach to employee conduct, others feel that he is too impulsive and quick to fire people.
Why so influenced?
Moreover, Premji’s influence and power in Wipro is questionable since he technically does not possess any power in the day-to-day functioning of the company. This is in accordance with SEBI’s rule which directs the companies to not appoint any executive director as the chairperson of the board.
Following that rule, Wipro had then issued a statement saying “Rishad A Premji will cease to perform any executive role in the company and continue in the capacity of non-executive director of the company, such that the company remains compliant with the listing regulations in force at all times”.