An Assistant Manager in a large company had gone to an in-house meeting, inadvertently leaving an expensive wristwatch on his desk. When he came back a few hours later, he realised that the wristwatch was missing. None of the others in the office could recall seeing anybody near his desk during his absence, but almost everybody opined that the watch must have been stolen by one of the ‘Canteen Boys’ or Housekeeping staff. He reported the matter to the Administration Department, which, in turn, reported the matter to Security. Simultaneously, the GM – Administration sent an email about the matter to all employees, requesting them to immediately acknowledge receipt of his email and also to provide any relevant information.
Security summoned all the ‘Canteen Boys’ and Housekeeping staff on duty and questioned them about the missing wristwatch. All of them denied any involvement in or knowledge about the matter. As usual, they were all frisked and their belongings were checked at the gate when they left for the day, but that day the frisking and checking was more methodical than normal. However, the wristwatch was not found.
In the meanwhile, all employees had acknowledged receipt of the GM – Administration’s email, but nobody had provided any information.
The Head of Security informed the GM – Administration that their only hope would be to check that day’s records of the CCTV cameras in that office. He assured the GM – Administration that he would do this immediately and would submit a report by the next morning.
The next morning, the Head of Security reported that the CCTV footage clearly revealed that the wristwatch had been stolen by one of the company’s senior managers! There was absolutely no scope for doubt.
The senior manager had acknowledged receipt of the GM – Administration’s email the previous evening.
The senior manager was summoned to the GM – Administration’s room and asked if he knew anything about the missing wristwatch. He claimed ignorance, but accepted his guilt when shown the CCTV footage. He was asked to submit his resignation, which he did immediately, and was relieved within an hour.
This incident was related to me by a person who was employed in the same company and had been present in the office that day. He was shocked by the senior manager’s guilt. He was more pained by the fact that the ‘Canteen Boys’ and Housekeeping staff were automatically suspected, questioned, frisked and searched.
I share his pain about the way the support staff was treated, but I am not surprised at all. This happens on a regular basis in many households. Whenever any valuable item (or a small amount of cash) goes missing, the domestic help is almost invariably suspected.
Some employers keep their suspicion to themselves, but take extra care to keep all valuable items out of the domestic help’s easy reach.
Some employers politely ask the domestic help if (s)he has seen the missing item.
Some employers quietly ask the domestic help if (s)he has taken the missing item.
Some employers openly accuse the domestic help of having stolen the missing item, a few even threatening to file a police complaint. In most cases where the domestic help has been openly accused by the employer, the services of the domestic help are terminated or the domestic help quits the job.
In most of the cases, the missing item is found after a few days. When this happens, are suitable amends made to the domestic help who was suspected or accused of stealing it?
Why do we assume that economically weaker people are less honest than others?
According to me, except in very rare situations, there is no connection between a person’s honesty and his/her economic condition. What do you think?