Shantanu Deshpande: Bombay Shaving Co CEO criticised for 18-hour workday advice


31 August 2022|3 Safar 1444

An Indian CEO is being criticised after he suggested that new recruits at any job work 18 hours a day for the first four to five years of their career.

Shantanu Deshpande, founder of Bombay Shaving Company, asked young workers to “worship” work and avoid “rona-dhona (cribbing)” in an online post.

Angry reactions on social media said he was promoting a “toxic work culture”.

India has strong labour laws, but activists have said officials need to do more to implement them strictly.

In 2020, Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy had also faced criticism for suggesting that Indians work for a minimum of 64 hours a week for two to three years to compensate for the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

The LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index released in 2020 said two in five working professionals in India were experiencing increased stress and anxiety.

In his LinkedIn post on Tuesday, Mr Deshpande said it was “too early” for young people to consider maintaining a work-life balance at the start of their careers.

One Twitter user said Mr Deshpande was justifying “toxic work culture” at a time when “mass layoffs by Indian start-ups has become a norm.”

Another user pointed out that the Mr Deshpande had not said he would “pay extra” to people who work longer hours.

“Companies have a tendency to exploit people who do [work long hours]. In many cases leading to an early burnout, ending in people jeopardising their career,” the user wrote.

Following the widespread criticism of his comments, Mr Deshpande added a caveat to his post.

“Yikes, so much hate for 18-hour days. It’s a proxy for ‘giving your all and then some’,” he wrote.

He also said those wondering about the work culture at his company were welcome to talk to his employees.

Mr Deshpande’s comments come at a time when the term “quiet quitting” has taken off on social media. The term means doing only what your job demands and nothing more. It started with a video by an American TikTokker who advised “work is not your life”.

The BBC’s Perisha Kudhail wrote that the overall movement may have its origins in China, where the now-censored hashtag #tangping, meaning “lie flat”, was used in protest against the long-hours culture.