Saturday, September 30, 2006

Does pregnancy make a woman less capable?

I am prompted to write this due to a recent experience of a lady.

This particular lady was working for a very progressive (at least on the outset) company successfully managing a division of about 50 people. She was instrumental in setting up this division and she has trained the workforce single handedly to achieve very successful service levels. Her job was particularly made tough by the fact that Sri Lanka does not produce qualified people in this area. So it is essential to recruit and train the correct people for this job. And this particular division earned respect in general from within the company as well as from their customers for providing an efficient and courteous service.

Then this company expanded. Naturally this division was also expanded and diversified. She had participated on all the activities related to the expansion. She met the potential clients and had performed some activities beyond her scope such as training potential client organizations on behalf of her company. She identified her best staff to man the new operations and trained them further. She did everything that was expected out of her division to tackle this new business opportunity.

On the day before the launch of this new business, she was told, over the phone mind you, that the higher management of the company has decided to put another guy in charge of this operation because they felt she would not be able to handle it due to the fact that she was PREGNANT! And the person appointed was someone who had no clue about the operation, but because he was a guy, they thought he would be able to put in more time!

It is true that being pregnant she will not be able to spend her every working hour to the company. But they did not seem to have an issue with that when they got her involved in setting up the new operation. But after her doing the hard work, if they have a concern with her going on maternity, they should have the decency to discuss it openly with her, explain their concerns and let her be heard. But what they have done is unprofessional and unethical. Letting her find out from others that she will be replaced and after realizing that the cat has been let out, just confirming it over the phone, without giving her the due respect of telling it to her face to face!

What beats me is does it mean that being pregnant makes a woman less capable? They knew very well that she was pregnant when they requested her to help out with the ground work. They knew the time frames when she will be going on maternity leave. But still they never had any issue with her pregnancy then. But despite her doing all of that they had no decency to tell her properly that someone else will be appointed, probably because they know that their case was not very strong. So they get away by telling her over the phone!

It's pretty funny to me. Seems these guys have missed out the point. They are here because at some point their mothers decided to give birth to them. Obviously for a woman being a mother is more important than anything else. But holding that fact against her is a violation of her human rights. They are lucky that it is Sri Lankan lady and she does not want to take them to courts over the matter. But I believe that she has a pretty strong case. At least I think it is essential to bring such practices out to the open. Such companies should be avoided by the citizens, for their unfair and unethical treatment of mothers!

Contracting Vs. Permanent Employment

Came across this interesting post which was trying to compare the difference between permanent and contract positions. Where.Deers.&.Antelopes.Play It is a post that has started a very diverse discussion from different view points. What triggered me to write this post was because I was also once a contractor and I faced a few issues by virtue of being a contractor, especially in the case where I needed to raise some capitol from banks.

In Sri Lanka, no bank will ever lend you any money if you are a contractor. They seem to have taken the notion that permanent jobs are forever and contract jobs are temporary. I guess what they have not realized is the fact that no job is permanent, whether it is contract or permanent.

When I took up that particular post, I had no hesitations on taking up a contractual position as I had confidence on my self. I was confident of being able to get a renewal at the end of the term. I always believed in giving back my worth to the company that work. If I feel I am not doing my worth, I get worried before anyone else does.

So for me it was not much of a differentiator. What I was more interested in was the challenge and the environment. I was more concerned about delivering what was expected out of my, because one thing that I cannot bear, is being a failure in my own eyes.

But in general I think the environment also has to adopt to be more flexible towards contractors, specially in Sri Lanka. If the banking system shuts down contractors from basic needs such as getting a housing loan, car loan etc, then that is going to force some people to seek permanent jobs. This will create an undue demand for permanent jobs as well as makes it harder for companies to fill short term man power usages through contracting.

A lot of contract staff in Sri Lanka tend to work for foreign companies. This practice is adopted by these foreign companies to stay more flexible because of old labour laws that are in place, which makes it almost impossible for a company to fire an employee, unless that person commits some serious crime. So in order to not to get locked into carrying un-necessary luggage they prefer to get people on contract.

If the government wants to promote foreign investment, they will have to work on bringing in legitimacy to the contract workers, by amending laws that would ensure that they are treated in the same level as the permanent employees. If this is done, I think eventually Sri Lanka will also have a talented pool of contractors who will be able to quickly move in to a job and fulfil the requirements. This will also enable the companies to be more agile as they will have flexible access to talent; proven and exposed talent. People who are exposed to new technologies and more diverse situations, thus providing solutions that are proven and tested, avoiding the invention of the wheel over and over again.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chinese @ Peach Valley

Ended up going out for dinner last night. We had no plan to dine out, but when we ran in to Lasal, we figured the best way to kill some time was by doing dinner. I hope the lie he told his mom to skip the dinner invitation he had would not be traced back to us!

Tried Chinese at Peach Valley last night. Lushi has fallen in love with a menu we tried sometime back and we went to try that again. Then we moved on to IlGilato down Duplication Street to have an ice cream. There was is a Cafe Lavinia that is co-housed in the same building. Tried the Caramel Latte. It was pretty good. Thankfully last night was not one of Lasal's vegetarian days, so we were free to try out the meat and fish as well.

Peach Vally is pretty amazing. You find the place packed to almost capacity almost on all nights. I am sure one part is their food. And the other is the fact that have a bar inhouse. So it doubles up as a restaurant / bar.

After a pretty hard week the weekend is finally here. I look forward to chillout, relax and some quality time with my family. I haven't visited my mother in about two weeks so must go see her. Amma I hope you would understand why I was unable to visit you as I was buried in work.

As for this weekend Lushi wants to do some cleanups around the house. Let's see how things go. I just hope that I wont catch a cold after the cleaning, which sometimes happens to me when I get exposed to dust!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blogging using Windows Live Writer (Beta)

I am posting this entry using Windows Live Writer. So let's see how this turns out.

Out of the tools that were listed on, this was one of the tools which I liked because I thought that it would enable me to post to multiple blogs. Seems it does, but strangely it did not allow me to setup a Live Spaces Blog! Talk about ironies!

And one more thing. I ran a spell check after writing this post and it caught blogging as a word that is mis-spelled. This in a blogging tool. That's funny!