shilpa - hostile work environment 
Shilpa Vaid

It’s a real shame but even today there are destructive workplace behaviours in many organizations that adversely impact women and their safety, productivity, health, and confidence. These range from a hostile working environment created by a manager or a peer as well as discrimination based on gender or even harassment. For those of you who are starting your career, it’s going to be frustrating and confusing but you’re going to have to find a way to deal with it. For those of you who have dealt with it or may be facing a toxic situation currently, please know that you are not alone.

Know the difference: First and foremost, there is a difference between a boss who bullies or harasses you and someone who pushes and challenges you. Learn to discern the difference. How does he/ she treat other employees?

Speak up: However uncomfortable the situation or unwelcoming the actions of others – the key to correcting these situations is to understand you have a role to play in ‘righting the wrong’ and the first step towards it is to speak up and not to ignore or hide the situation/ issues.

Ask for help: For some reason, you may feel reluctant to speak to your Manager or go directly to HR. Try to find another ally outside your immediate chain of command or a senior female leader but there is no shame in asking for help. And remember to document your experiences thoroughly.

Take back control: And no matter what, don’t feel shame or humiliation and equally importantly, don’t let your work suffer. Be ambitious, remain passionate and take risks and rise to the top, where you are meant to be!

About Author

Shilpa Vaid, Chief Human Resources Officer  Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited, is an HR leader with over 17 years of local & international experience spanning across all functional areas of HR, with a deep specialization in performance and talent management. She has experience in partnering with the business across varied cycles ranging from hyper growth, organizational transformation to down-sizing as well as demonstrated leadership in building & leading large teams and managing scale.


Shilpa graduated from Hindu College, Delhi University and has an MBA in Human Resources from the International Management Institute, New Delhi. She started her career in HR consulting with Ernst & Young/ Arthur Andersen and thereafter worked with Aviva Life Insurance and ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.

She then worked with MetLife as the Country Head of Human Resources wherein she led the HR function for the India business of the global insurance giant. Her last assignment with MetLife was as the Talent Management lead for Asia. Thereafter, Shilpa served as the Chief HR and Corporate Responsibility Officer for Bharti AXA General Insurance wherein she had overall responsibility for the Human Resources, Corporate Responsibility and Internal Communications functions.

She is currently employed as the Chief Human Resources Officer for Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited. She has overall responsibility for the Human Resources & Administration functions for Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd., Arvind Fashions Ltd., Calvin Klein Arvind Fashion Pvt. Ltd., Arvind Beauty Brands Retail Pvt. Ltd, The Arvind Store and Arvind Sports Lifestyle Ltd.

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