How the corporate sector turned me into a hypocrite

Published: August 21, 2013

Once proud of being a part of this sector, I sometimes feel ashamed now. I am now a man without values. ILLUSTRATION: IMAAN SHEIKH

To become a part of the corporate world had always been my dream, and ever since my graduation, it had become my vision to enter this grand realm and use my knowledge to cater to its needs. However, it did not take me long to understand that my vision was better as a dream than as a reality, and these are the reasons why.

As planned, a month after my graduation, I joined a renowned multinational to kick-start my career. Everything was looking glorious to me, as if it could not possibly get any better than this – the office, the environment, the culture, the employees and the work, it was perfect. However, soon, I realised that the grass here only seemed greener, and that the actual picture was marred in many ways.

The product that was marketed and that which was sold were poles apart in these organisations. Being an amateur, I thought this was nothing unusual and that any company would do the same. Thus, I kept quiet and continued working.

After serving around six years in the corporate sector, I can proudly say that I am a polished, well equipped, dedicated and self-motivated hypocritical professional. I have learnt that there is no or little room for  honesty and integrity in this sector.

Just a friendly tip: before joining this sector you should rid yourself of all values – there is no space for these in this industry.

You cannot excel in the corporate sector with only performance and competence to stand by; it is essential to be a hypocrite. I have seen people going an extra mile for their increments and promotions, doing things you could have never imagined people of such a calibre would do.

I have seen people running personal errands, such as shopping, picking and dropping their bosses to and from the office and giving them the expensive gifts irrespective of an occasion. All of this is done not as a gesture of civility but for the sole purpose of receiving a promotion – in Pakistani terminology makhan lagaana (buttering up). Additionally, you are required to agree with your boss on everything he believes in or you might have to face dire consequences.

Often I have observed people compromising the organisation’s interests just because it didn’t please their superior. Bosses are given too much power, and since we all know power comes with a price, here the employees pay that price. For example, if you are a top dog at an esteemed company, you can ‘help’ out a friend or a relative using your status. However, the same ‘favour’ will not be extended to another hardworking and more deserving colleague.

I find this grossly unfair and no matter how high I climb, I just can’t wrap my head around this preferential treatment.

Alternatively, I have noticed that if you are coming through a reference, the job is served to you on a silver platter, but this is not applicable to other employees who might be more capable and have the potential to succeed. This practise is so common that at certain times, qualification, experience, abilities and competencies have no or little place.

This is why intelligent and deserving people who hail from poor families, with little or no connections, always get the shorter end of the stick. We will not allow them to dig themselves out of poverty because they know nobody in power.

My colleague and I have suffered the same; what we received as promotions, increments and other organisational benefits was very low in terms of our capabilities and qualifications, and this was because we refrained from doing what many of our colleagues had proudly done – sucking up to their bosses.

As you might have already figured out, there is little room for ethics in the corporate sector. All that is required is profitability and that too at any cost. Organisations are shamelessly involved in malpractices such as stealing electricity and gas and evading taxes to boost their profitability.

Moreover, they do not follow labour and environmental laws and fail to provide their employees with the facilities and wages as per the laws stated. How often have you seen a worker wearing no protective gear, carrying out perilous duties? Just think of the people we lost in the Baldia fires. If these workers were treated as they were meant to  and not as money-making machines, they might have still been alive.

The sad reality, however, is that organisations safeguard their own interests. Many corporations have code of conducts but when it comes to following these codes, a conflict of interest magically arises. If following the code benefits the organisation it is followed, otherwise it is scrapped and forgotten like it never existed.

Not so long ago, I had a few grievances with the management of my organisation, for which I emailed the  senior management level. As expected, the complaint was never addressed in fear of harming or upsetting my boss. Instead, my attitude, behaviour and performance were questioned. I didn’t ask or complain about anything absurd, I was demanding justice as per the code of conduct that I was entitled to.

Alas! That’s just the way it is.

Truthfully, the corporate life is a robotic life where emotions, feelings, family and friends have little or no place. All that is required by corporations are results and positive ones at that. They are not concerned with how you feel or what you say. It is a rat race where everyone is trying to beat the other, not by performance but by cunning.

Many times, I have observed people back-stabbing and sidelining their colleagues and best friends for earning a few words of kindness from their bosses. What is the purpose of such a promotion?

Once proud of being a part of this sector, I sometimes feel ashamed now. I am now a man without values.

Asad Ur Rehman

Asad Ur Rehman

A Muslim, patriotic Pakistani, OD professional, Social Activist and a blogger, who is currently serving in Asia's largest textile unit." He tweets @asad_piracha

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Indian

    @ Author

    I hear you brother…all my sympathies. Some people do become sell outs,to succeed. But you’re different-you identified the problem-that’s the first step…
    Don’t think integrity has to be sacrificed at the altar of success all the time-doesn’t work in the long run..not always.Recommend

  • choclet

    a corrupt environment which didn’t exist earlier. while checking the websites of such companies i snicker at their vision and mission statements. especially when ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ are mentioned!! and the manipulation, insecurity etc is not just limited to men! most are mba ((and qualified from abroad), but their aesthetics and sense of proportion is a big question mark!Recommend

  • Skeptical

    Have faced this throughout my 9 yrs career life, worst is that bosses don’t spare you when you leave their organisation. They make sure to bad mouth you around. It’s a bad corporate world!! Especially for girls…..If you don’t participate in extra curricular activities you are not accepted at all…..Recommend

  • Proletarian

    As anarcho-communist philosopher Peter Kropotkin said in his book “The Conquest of Bread”

    “Fine sermons have been preached on the text that those who have should share with those who have not, but he who would act out this principle is speedily informed that these beautiful sentiments are all very well in poetry, but not in practice. “To lie is to degrade and besmirch oneself,” we say, and yet all civilized life becomes one huge lie. We accustom ourselves and our children to hypocrisy, to the practice of a double-faced morality. And since the brain is ill at ease among lies, we cheat ourselves with sophistry. Hypocrisy and sophistry become the second nature of the civilized man.

    But a society cannot live thus; it must return to truth or cease to exist.”Recommend

  • working woman

    I understand each of ur word. you are so damn right to every extent.. i was also working in a multinational and i worked there for 4 months and left that organization becoz i cant lick the feet of my boss (female boss).. These corporate sector pay you less and take work from you like they are paying you in lac. You have to do over time and often i was working at odd hours from home at night.. yes my social n family life was ruined becoz i was assigned work from home n moreover the attitude of my boss was sickening. she used to treat me like i am her maid, scold me for even smallest of mistake.. I have even cried for these kind of pity things as she humilated me to that extent.. Result: i found some other job, better pay, no late hours or work from home, no humilation and quit my corporate sector job without informing them.. Just emailing all the hatred that i had in my heart.. I email to my supervisor, my CEO and HR.. (yes i am a happy and satisfied working women now) Recommend

  • Keen Observer

    I would agree with you on some counts – organizations lie, thats a fact! marketing at best is glorifying something ordinary in order to influence purchase. However, what you’ve described is something that exists EVERYWHERE and in ALL arenas of life no matter what you do – whether you run your own business or work for a big corporation. When a group of people get together with similiar objectives but only limited opportunities these things happen. You just need to accept it and do your best to avoid what you feel is wrong :)Recommend

  • Anthony

    What a ridiculous blog!!!

    I disagree 100%.

    The corporate world consists of three elements: the corporate entity, the corporate folk with integrity and corporate folk without integrity.

    You choose which side you belong to. I’ve worked in corporates for 14 years, and have successfully, with integrity, having never ever sacrificed my values, climbed the ladder to success. And in this time, I saw with my own eyes the set of hypocrites you talk about, and more often than not they were weeded out. Recommend

  • Slave

    We are all corporate slaves.
    We cannot be fired because slaves are traded.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Whats an OD professional ?
    When you say in the end ‘ Now I’m a man without values ‘ that sounded all wrong, I feel you should have left that last sentence out because it came across as self pity and some how not believable.


  • Baig

    @ Working woman

    What the author has blogged about is different from what you remarked about. Seems you weren’t a team player.
    Some people who are misfits and not good at their work, tend to mistakenly view themselves as superior,talented rebels who’re above the rest.Recommend

  • Farah

    Well yeah it is funny how people expect otherwise. If your entire society is corrupt and good values are not encouraged even at a family level, why expect people to turn into angels once they enter the corporate world. Ofcourse they are used to taking shortcuts, putting others down, getting up by all means. These things are built into the children’s psyche right from the very beginning- at pre school levels, the way parents are competing. Naturally they produce desperate self centered people who think they got it all until they reach the corporate sector where they realize they are being bossed around by an equally narcisstic person.

    Oh and plus I have experienced how despite these depressing jobs, people at the corporate level continue to behave like they are having the best time on Earth! Seriously. What a really fake way of living!

    Thanks for bringing this up!!Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Everyone has to suck up to their boss if they want to move up the ladder, such is the harsh reality everywhere. When one applies for a job one becomes a slave of the Organization and indirectly the boss. Often one finds that we are not temperamentally suited for a job due to being too independent, happened in my case so decided to go my own way by the age of thirty. Only in hindsight can one debate whether it was a wise or unwise decision. Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    Well, thanks a lot for feedback guys. Can’t we even comment with our own identities? Its so saddening that people want the things to be spoken out but can’t even dare to reveal their names. Recommend

  • Indian

    @ Feroz

    Sounds like you took a brave step… hope you will succeed.Recommend

  • dewzzx

    CSR is a topic discussed by every employer, but profit is always their first priority. There is no one who comes for the wellbeing of community. Recommend

  • Tooba Awais

    Definitely true n sad too.
    It’s rightly said that pious is the one who dint get a chance.
    Many organisations hire people who merely fit to be at a position but they are there cz they follow the so called code of conduct as set by the filthy bosses.
    And most of us are unfortunately the part of it.

    We live in a place where finally we can’t stay honest to ourselves even.

  • BlackJack

    CSR is the not the purpose for which an ordinary company is established. You can only deliver on CSR if you are indeed making profits.

    I think this piece is overly bitter and describes the writer’s mental state and attitude – and if the content is true, he is a poor fit for the Corporate world; he should try and start his own company and will then realize that the outside world is no different, people often get ahead through relationships, influence and flattery. However, the fact is that many people (yours truly included) find their jobs enjoyable and often exciting, which would not be possible if corporate life was this unbearable mixture of periodic humiliation followed by a constant compromise of ethics that this article describes. Companies that are considered good employers have strong systems in place to prevent personal factors from overshadowing performance and potential over a period of time, even though the occasional heart-burn still has high statistical probability. However, no company, big or small that wishes to stay on top of its game would wish to lose better employees and retain worse ones. Examine yourself once in a while, if you are perfect, then your company does not deserve you and you should move on.Recommend

  • unbiased

    sorry but not corporate sector you n only you are responsible for what u r … u always have a choice and its all upto u to opt … i hv many examples before me when someone left a job due to ethical issues !!!Recommend

  • NQ

    Bro! Corporate World is filled with individuals like us, if we are not corrupt believe me no one else is! To be successful you need not to lick your boss’s shoes yeah but you need to do it when you’re the wrong person maybe at right place!Recommend

  • Ap

    How is the corporate sector different from any other organisation? Recommend

  • May

    What about the racism prevalent in the international corporate world. A gora (white) will be placed on top whatever his qualification is, next preferred are the western passport holders, next are the arabs (in the gulf), at the bottom are the pakistanis/ other south asians no matter how highly qualified they are! Recommend

  • Sane

    Few more points to progress:

    Never let anyone to perform good. You will be gauged ‘good’ if others perform bad. Never help you colleagues or juniors, otherwise you are preparing them to compete you. Your boss will ignore all your mistakes if you are in good books. Highlight and blow out of proportion mistake of other in every meeting as much as possible. Never recognize and let anyone recognize good performance of others. Always shift you misdoings on others. Lie as much as you can. Now, you are a star performer of the corporate sector.Recommend

  • Shahid Ashraf

    I hope this blog won’t cost you your job :)

    You’re right but why only Corporate Sector? What else is spared from these evils in this land of pure? Be it trade, Social Sector, Government, Health, Education, Courts, even religious institutions. This is the case everywhere! The only thing is that you’ve experienced the corporate sector. If you ask a person like you working in any other sector, you will hear the same thing!

    This is the reason why there hasn’t been even a single Pakistani organisation that could become large enough to the size of the smallest multinationals. Even the multinational companies that are operating in Pakistan have a tendency to do things that they can’t even think of doing in their country of origin. That’s because of poor implementation of laws for human beings by nature are to find short-cuts and violate the law. Voluntary abiding the laws is not in human nature.

    The only thing people like you can do to change this is: initiate your own business/company and apply all those golden rules in there! But probably at some point even you will start to behave like the corporate bosses! :)

    Good luck! :)Recommend

  • BlackJack

    What about the racism prevalent in the international corporate world. A gora (white) will be placed on top whatever his qualification is, next preferred are the western passport holders, next are the arabs (in the gulf), at the bottom are the pakistanis/ other south asians no matter how highly qualified they are!
    Do you know how many Indians are the heads of leading global corporates today? Pls avoid such useless generalizations and negative mindset. I have been working in the West for a while and have never ever been discriminated against based on my race – in fact, Indians are considered to be pretty smart and hardworking, which is why they get ahead; the few Pakistanis (also hard workers) that I have met within my company will also agree. On a separate note, while it is true that people in the West may be less qualified in terms of number of degrees and pedigree, look around you in India or Pakistan and you will realize that these multiple degrees alone have zero value even over there too; the top 0.01% actually get degrees that can take them places, and you will find the same bunch perched fairly high on the global corporate ladder as well. But at the end of the day, I believe that it is what you bring to the table that makes you a better choice vs someone else – and this requires actual demonstration and not just documentation.Recommend

  • Col. Nicholson

    @working woman:

    If i may ask, what line of work are you in? and where is this place you are working now with no over-time or work from home? I’d surely like to get a job there If I could :-)Recommend

  • May


    “Do you know how many Indians are the heads of leading global corporates today”

    Quite a few. Most of them have western passports. After global crises some well established companies are placing Indians at higher positions to cut on very high salaries that were paid to white westerners. Still a white westerner working under an Indian or an arab working under an Indian ( in Gulf) may be very very very rare.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Your interpretation of racism (most intriguingly) is based on the color of one’s passport instead of color of one’s skin – a very unique if twisted idea. So in your world, if someone acquires western citizenship, do they magically move up a few levels in their company and become their boss’s boss? I wonder whether any Pakistani American would care to comment on this theory. Next, the salary theory is complete hokum – trying to save a couple of hundred thousand dollars when hundreds of millions are at stake, and the insinuation is appalling and testament to your own racial prejudices; let me also tell you that even hint of such a racist measure to compromise leadership quality in order to save a few bucks would cause a decline in the share price (for a listed company, which most MNCs are), and heads would inevitably roll.

    Note: The Gulf/ Middle East is a bad example to compare goras with others; white foreigners as a percentage of the workforce there are minuscule – and they would only shift to ME for a very attractive offer or for the unique experience. Naturally every other ethnicity is more willing to compromise because they are reasonably certain of making more money than they could back home. FYI I have seen plenty of Arabs reporting to Indians in Dubai and Oman – in fact there are probably far more number of American and European MNCs in the ME with a South Asian dominant leadership team and comparatively few with mainly Arabs at the top, so your pyramid structure is flawed. This is not to say that racism does not exist in the Gulf, but the perpetrators are Arabs and not people from the West.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Asad Ur Rehman: Parvez is my real name and I fail to understand how a name effects the comment pertaining to a blog………its really immaterial.
    I did ask the meaning of a OD professional………but got no answer. Could you kindly educate me, thanks.

  • Travel_Tart

    No one makes us something that we are not..
    Things and events only UNMASK what we really are!Recommend

  • May

    I dont buy your confused explanation. Either you work in a basement or you are in denial. It is color of skin, passport or many other factors Racism exist in each and every sphere of human society, it exists between blacks/ colored and whites, it exists between rich and poor, it exists between different castes, it exists between different passports and nationalities, it exists between arabs and non arabs, it exists between men and women etc and i can give you many many recent examples from west and east. E.g a white westerner national is respected everywhere and is allowed to travel to most countries of the world without a visa but how many countries an Indian or Pakistani ( whatever position he holds) can travel without applying for a visa?
    Indians/ others (western passport holders) recently placed at top positions in certain western/ gulf based organizations is SOLELY FOR THE COST SAVING PURPOSE and at the same time they dont have much position in decision making. Recommend

  • Moaaz Ahmed

    Quite agree on it
    but the Organization image you sketched is more of Public Organization or Sethia Company not of Multinational!Recommend

  • Alann

    The author should give a try to Tata Group. It is one of the biggest organisations in the world with over 100 companies, and yet it has high morals and ethics on every level of its governance. Tatas don’t give preferential treatment to anyone, nor do they pay bribes to any government officials to bag contracts or get any other work done, in any country.
    Also, “references” are of two types. Generally, in the bigger firms, people who have reference from within the company have an easy time in getting the job in that company. This however does not mean they got job over “better persons” because of influence of some. “References” usually means the top executives in that company themselves have recommended these candidates based on their performance elsewhere; It does not have anything to do with “favouritism” in the workplace, atleast in the big, renowned corporate firms. Any company will give preference to candidates with internal reference over others who the company knows nothing about.
    The other type of “reference” is usually found in government companies where people get job if they carry a note from some influential politician. However, thats not exactly the thing in author’s case.Recommend

  • Haris

    Life is not fair anywhere. God has not sent anyone with a guarantee of success or special treatment. Withexperience you will learn how to deal with it.Recommend

  • abhi

    corporations are curse for mdern times. I don’t know when will we get rid of them.Recommend

  • Mercutio

    @Proletarian: Great Kropotkin quote! I love reading your comments on this site. I’m glad there are other anarcho-syndicalists in Pakistan besides me!Recommend

  • hammad

    Well thanks for sharing with us , but honestly thats is the situation for all of us , after doing graduation and masters we think that we`ll change the world , we show some resistance in start of our professional career in return we get pathetic appraisal and after couple of years we became the same who we use to crticize ,, and at the we become part of that system. but we dont realise it thats the most shameful part. agreeing with the boss on every stupid dailogue has become our habit.

    May be some people become hypocrite professional some by choice and some by FORCE .. :s Recommend

  • Pappu

    Working with private companies is worse than slavery.Recommend

  • Tasmiya

    Be a Whistle Blower.. or not, is one’s own call. There is nothing surprising, hypocracy, it prevails everywhere. Home, Work, Friends whatever.. its you who decide the path to move on.. The honest path sometimes makes you pay alot, but that’s how it is. Good comes with a little loss here and there.Recommend

  • Tasmiya

    @ Parvez

    OD is Organizational DevelopmentRecommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @Indian: Thanks a lot for your comment and encouragement. Well I am in a constant improvement phase and trying to set things right across the board for myself and for others. I know its a hard path to move on but with resolve and commitment, I hope I will be able to achieve it.Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @choclet: Well exactly, you are true. They are far away from what is being said. Words and actions are exactly in opposite direction. People usually aren’t bad in start but its the environment then that makes them to change themselves and eventually the adapt the wrong way. Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @Skeptical: Well exactly its too hard for females but sometimes females make it hard for themselves too. Few of them act wrongly and that creates hurdles for all othersRecommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @Keen Observer: I agree with you that this happens everywhere but some sectors are under fierce influence. And when we have to rectify things then we first need to accept what is wrong and then we can start rectification. We can’t keep on living in this way that this happens with everyone and everywhere. We must stand and make things rightRecommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    Well that’s marvelous if you have worked for years with integrity. Can you please quote your name and organization and please enlighten us how you achieved this feat. Recommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    Dear Parvez, whatever I have written is what I have experienced with me or have seen other people. And the last sentence is my conviction. If you don’t want to believe that is up yo you but it happens that after sometime people loose their values and moral and mingle in the system. I am putting every best effort to get out of thisRecommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @Shahid Ashraf: Well Shahid, that’s because I am not aware of ground realities other sectors and I can’t comment based on my perceptions or what others say unless I experience it. Moreover yes there are issue with every sector but we have to move step by step. I have taken the first step and will keep on taking further but I will expect others to come forward too.Recommend

  • Shiraz

    It might be true in Pakistan, but not in other countries such as the ME.

    There are strict HR policies and checks and balances to avoid such makkan baziRecommend

  • Asad Ur Rehman

    @Shiraz: It has been written in Pakistani context but issue prevails in majority of organizations across the worldRecommend