India: CEO slammed for suggesting that young people should work 18 hours a day

Netizens say that his remarks promote toxic professional environments

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Published: Wed 31 Aug 2022, 3:02 PM

An Indian CEO has been slammed online for a LinkedIn post in which he advises 22 year olds to throw themselves into their jobs and to work for 18 hours a day for the first 4 to 5 years of their careers.

In his original post, Shantanu Deshpande, CEO and founder of Bombay Shaving Company, says, "When you are 22 and new in your job, throw yourself into it. Eat well and stay fit, but put in the 18 hour days for at least 4-5 years. I see a LOT of youngsters who watch random content all over and convince themselves that ‘work life balance, spending time with family, rejuvenation bla bla’ is important. It is, but not that early. That early, worship your work."

He goes onto say that the efforts that people put in to the first 5 years of their careers carry them for the rest of it.

"Take it on the chin and be relentless. You will be way better for it,” he concludes.

The post gained thousands of comments, most of them criticising the message. Commenters complained that Deshpande was promoting toxic work practices, in a country that is plagued by burnout of young professionals in the corporate sector, according to local media.

Some people asked whether Deshpande was willing to pay young people who work overtime.

"Slavery is abolished in India," wrote on user under the post. "It's organisations and bosses like you who create toxic work culture," said another comment.

People have also pointed out that 18 hour work days plus commute time leaves hardly enough time to get the sleep they need.

Deshpande later edited the post to say that he did not mean 18 hour work days literally, and used that figure simply to emphasise the need to be dedicated to your work.

Addressing the comments about toxic work culture, he said that commenters are welcome to talk to employees at his company to verify for themselves the work culture the CEO promotes.

On Wednesday, Deshpande posted what he said would be his last post on LinkedIn. He apologised for hurting public sentiments. He also said that angry netizens had reached out to his parents and called him a 'slave-owner'.

The CEO attached a clip of an interview with a local news channel, where he defends his remarks as being about motivating the younger generation to spend their youth well. He also says that he realised later that he should have worded the post differently to get his message across.


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