Neha has worked in several organizations such as HCL, Nokia, Adobe, and Global Infoways. Growing up with parents with disabilities, as a kid; she never traveled or went on holidays. And when she grew up and initiated travels with her parents, the experiences were far from pleasant owing to inaccessibility and societal attitudes. She realized that many other people might be facing the same issues. This is what inspired Neha to quit her corporate job and embark on building Planet Abled.
She emphasizes on No Sir No Madam practice at her own company. Neha vocalizes, “I let my employees address me by my first-name.” She believes that a company with no hierarchy can work much more efficiently. Even the interns on being hired are informed not to adhere to using salutations.
In India, corporate operative, seniors, in age or by designation expect to be referred as ‘Sir/Madam’. Neha cites an example of her job interview, when she kept addressing the CEO by his first-name. After the interview, one of the senior colleagues approached her and asked, “Why did she keep referring him without any salutation?”
She replied to the manager, “I have never addressed anyone by salutation, and I will continue to do so. I display respect by the quality of my work and behavior.” Neha mentions that the manager was surprised on hearing her reply. People tend to expect women to be submissive and not have a voice. No salutation application works as a shield. It lets the employer know that they are not doing them a favor by employing them.
At first, anyone who is accustomed to Sir/Madam culture will feel awkward when addressed by their first-name. With time, they realize that respect can be shown even without following salutation decree. First-name routine lets others know that you are neither inferior nor superior to anyone.
In the government sector, the demography is different; first-name communication is considered as a sign of disrespect. Officials are egotistical and disinclined to do their duty on not being addressed as ‘Sir/Madam’. Even the lowest ranking worker expects to be addressed with a salutation.
Neha vocalizes that, , you have to bow down to their superiority sometimes, to get work done. It is imbibed into them to cohere to salutation order. It is in this sector, where the mind-set needs to be changed. The same applies to Indian MNC’s as well. Older generation officials need to realize that respect can be shown without imposing any command. Although, majority has realized and picked up the new culture, but still it is prevalent at many places, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities.
Sir/Madam order has created a hindrance for the lower-economic section of our society. Petty-job workers are often made to abide to exercise salutation doctrine. They are even made to refer the kids of their employers as ‘Sir/Madam’. Neha discerns that workers should be encouraged and given equal respect instead of forcing/expecting them to practice, a habit of practicing ‘Sir/Madam’ culture.
Neha shares her college experience, when a senior tried to bully her by demanding to be addressed as ‘Sir’. She stuck to her belief of not bowing down to authority and refused to do so. This created enormous stress between her senior and Neha. “Later, the guy realized he was wrong, and we eventually became friends,” declares Neha.
Therefore, to avoid partisanship in the society, a change needs to be brought about. No Sir No Madam ideology should be implemented in the education system itself. When children are educated about this ideology, they will not grow up to follow ‘Sir/Madam’ mandate. It is vital to inculcate this remodeling from childhood, so that they do not grow up to be bullies.
In her final words, Neha suggests that No Sir No Madam restructuring should be adopted by the top-level managers. It would help in impacting a lot more people, if people in leadership roles can follow the first-name practice. The new leadership of course practices that, even few old ones who have upgraded themselves with the times.
Overall, she conjugates — I will follow No Sir No Madam custom unless someone can prove it to be discourteous, and I am sure they can’t.