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Monday, July 7, 2008

Sitting pretty at Citibank

Use of women in the corporate world of Bangladesh. Have you ever thought about that? How many of us are open to the idea of having a female manager and/or a CEO? Not everyone becomes the CEO of Berger Paints Ltd. or Head of an important division in a telecom company. And we can assume that those women climbed the corporate ladder by dint of their merit and hardwork only. However, are there any specific cases in a corporate context in Bangladesh where women are ‘applied’ with a purpose?

The reason why I am shedding some light on this topic is that the other day, someone mentioned that Citibank usually employs up-heel, pretty women who work as the corporate ambassadors while dealing with government counterparts and/or industry peers. It is heard that middle-aged or nearly old Bangladesh Bank officials sometimes find it really hard to say ‘no’ or behave impolitely to polished female fleet of Citibank N/A (Not Applicable huh?). So as the drooling eyes keep on relishing the eye candies, the deal gets sealed with a smile. I have also heard about one Mr. T in a telecom company (very aggressive) who heads the marketing department and prefers an entourage consisting of mostly wanna-babes who are eager to don the ID cards of the tiger-stripes. I wonder if marketing and pretty women go hand in hand or its just kind of icing on the cake…some sort of a window-dressing for the corporate shoppers?

So the question remains why management prefers to keep women as a receptionist or a phone operator or a call center agent or a marketing executive? How is it in the context of Bangladesh? Exposure to satellite TV for the last decade, frequent foreign trips to get exposed to diverse culture, how much of it has actually translated to a transformation of perception of women in the corporate arena of Bangladesh? Are they only being used as eye-candies with empty heads and high heels? Are being beautiful and a good female manager mutually exclusive in the eyes of male counterparts? Which sectors are more prone to applying women as corporate hot bombshells to explode in stakeholder premises? Banks…telcos? Others? May be you know better.

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