Niyati Ingale, Birmingham City University Graduate — ‘Sir/Madam’ Culture Makes it Difficult for Women to be Considered Equal in Society
Niyati Ingale, co-founder of Dustless Painting (http://www.dustlesspainting.in) boldly encourages No Sir No Madam initiative in India. Dustless Painting aims at revolutionizing interior painting services in India, with their dustless painting technique.
She has studied mass media in journalism from Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai. In addition, Niyati has also received her master’s degree in International broadcast journalism from Birmingham City University. After working as an assistant producer at CNBC-TV18, she decided to partner up with her father. The father-daughter duo came up with a brilliant idea to make repainting a dustless affair.
Niyati prefers addressing others on a first-name basis. She has even made her employees follow first-name tradition at Dustless Painting. She is of the opinion that there should not be any hierarchical hindrances at the workplace. Referring and recognizing everyone by their first-name makes communicating enjoyable. Niyati personally discourages the practice of imposing authority onto others.
Moreover, she voices, “I like to communicate with my employees on a personal basis. If I implement a salutation order, they will feel inferior to me and our conversation would be superficial. Greeting someone with a salutation is not the only way of showing respect, anyway. No Sir No Madam ideology enables me to create a friendly culture in my company.”
However, she realizes that this is not the norm in other companies. Other than start-ups, there are only a few private organisations that follow first-name culture. Niyati mentions that a lot of enterprises command their employees to follow ‘Sir/Madam’ tradition. She does not discern the need for such ego pampering at the workplace. According to her, respect and salutations are two separate terms.
It is the year 2017, and women still have to face discriminating treatment, be it at work or in the society. ‘Sir/Madam’ custom only adds to the discrimination they already face. Niyati narrates — I specifically remember a terrible experience, when I approached a government official. I tried to be a little informal and addressed the officer by his name, and it offended him. He probably was upset because a woman referred him by his first-name. I had to approach other authorities, as the previous bureaucrat kept on delaying my work.
Public and private sectors are extremely male-dominated places. For a woman to be taken seriously, we have to heed to a formal obeisance. It is unfair that to get our work, we have to sometimes do favours for them, monetarily or socially.
It is exigent that we eradicate such practices to create an equal platform for both; women and men, to work. Furthermore, Niyati conveys, “It is absolutely ridiculous for a person in higher designation to expect a regal treatment. People should respect each other irrespective of their designation in society. It is everyone’s social obligation to respect each other without any prejudice.”
Likewise, addressing someone with a salutation puts them in a higher position than us. Consequently, the interaction then demands a kind of decorum, where you have to behave accordingly. This in turn, continues to dictate the way any other person treats us. If we want to be regarded as an equal, we ourselves will have to labour for it.
In order to make her painters feel like they are a part of the organisation she hires them on a payroll. This makes them feel incorporated, like any other employee in a corporate firm. These painters generally are less-educated and come from a poor background. Niyati enumerates, she tries to perceive them as equal. She even educates them that they do not have to feel inferior because they have been less fortunate. Hence, she lets them address her by her first-name to make them feel welcomed. Niyati stresses, she would take it as a personal offense, if anybody disrespected her employees.
In a world where everyone only cares about their privileges, people should learn from Niyati and fight for other’s right.
She even recommends schools to adopt No Sir No Madam policy and make children follow it. If kids are given the freedom to express themselves, they will be able to learn a lot. This would also ensure that kids can talk about topics they do not understand. Hence, for the overall growth of a kid, it is important that they are taught about social behavior as well.
In the end, she states, “Create a culture, where people feel like they are working with you and not for you.”