Indian chief executive slammed for 18-hour workday advice

Shantanu Deshpande, founder of Bombay Shaving Company, tells new recruits work-life balance is not important during the early years

Shantanu Deshpande, chief executive and founder of India-based Bombay Shaving Company. Getty Images
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Shantanu Deshpande, founder and chief executive of India-based Bombay Shaving Company, has been slammed for an online post in which he suggested that new recruits or freshers work 18 hours a day during the initial years of their career.

He advised freshers to “worship your work” and said work-life balance is not important during the early years.

“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 four to five years,” his online post read.

“I see a lot of youngsters who watch random content all over and convince themselves that 'work-life balance, spending time with family, rejuvenation blah blah' is important. It is, but not that early … take it on your chin and be relentless. You will be way better for it,” he wrote.

Founded in 2015, Gurgaon-headquartered Bombay Shaving Company offers grooming services and products.

Netizens took to social media to criticise Mr Deshpande and condemned the “toxic work culture” that his post aimed to promote.

“It’s because of people like these that we will raise another generation of slaves who will work to make the likes of Shantanu Deshpande rich. It’s high time we say bye to toxic work cultures designed to exploit employee,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“At a time when mass layoffs by Indian start-ups have become a norm, Shantanu Deshpande … is not only vouching for a toxic work culture, but also justifying himself even after people have called out his opinion on LinkedIn,” another Twitter user wrote.

A LinkedIn user wrote: “It's not a fight. You hurt the sentiments of a lot of people with your toxic advice. And you didn't put it as your own opinion, you put it as an instruction.”

After facing widespread backlash, Mr Deshpande later apologised on a private news channel and also edited his post.

“Yikes. So much hate for 18-hour days … it's a proxy for giving your all … for those wondering about culture at [Bombay Shaving Company], feel free to come any time or talk to any of our people,” Mr Deshpande said.

“To those who were hurt by my post — apologies for the same. I recognise the need for nuance and context.”

Updated: August 31, 2022, 4:23 PM