Tatas to end contract with Suhel Seth firm Counselage

Suhel Seth.  

Mumbai: Natarajan Chandrasekaran-led Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, has decided not to renew its contract with Suhel Seth’s firm Counselage, after he was accused of sexual harassment by at least seven women under the aegis of the #MeToo movement.

“Counselage’s contract with Tata Sons will end on November 30, 2018,” a Tata Sons spokesperson told The Hindu. Mr. Seth who is variously described as a marketing maven, lobbyist, PR consultant is the founder and managing partner of Counselage India, a brand building advisory for corporations. Sources added that the group had not availed the services of Mr. Seth’s firm or engaged with him, since the allegations against him began to surface.

Mr. Seth who was a consultant with the Tata Group’s public relations team, had played a pivotal and visible role in rebuilding the Tata brand in the aftermath of the management crisis within the group in 2016, when Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman of Tata Sons.

After several accounts of Mr. Seth’s misdemeanours had been documented on social media, the Tata Group had earlier said that the company would soon take a decision on the matter.

“Tata Group is committed to promoting a safe workplace for women. We have noted the recent reports regarding Mr. Seth in the media. We are looking into the issue and will decide on a further course of action in this regard,” it had said in the statement issued on October 20.

Several of the women, who have spoken out against Mr. Seth’s misconduct tweeted in support of his removal as consultant for the Tata Group on Monday.

Journalist Mandakini Gahlot, who had called out Mr. Seth’s inappropriate conduct with her at a party, thanked film director Natashja Rathore for being the first to speak out against Mr. Seth’s conduct, while adding “I am not sure this is a victory until he acknowledges the allegations. #metoo.”

Supermodel Diandra Soares, who had posted an extensive account of Mr Seth’s sexual misconduct with her, tweeted to Tata Trusts Chairman, Ratan Tata and the Tata Sons’ Twitter handle with a simple “Thank you”.

Author Ira Trivedi tweeted, “And another one goes down. #metoo.” Ms. Trivedi, in her column for Outlook, had said that Mr. Seth had ‘”…often made loud, inappropriate and lewd comments,” to her.

Jasmine Divekar, one of the women to have detailed an account of Mr. Seth’s sexual misconduct with her at a party, also tweeted screenshots from a Google search that recalled Counselage India’s list of clients. Ms. Divekar asked the companies by – tagging them on Twitter – if they still employed Mr. Seth’s services.

The Hindu reached out to some of the firms that had been associated with Mr. Seth at some point, including the Adani Group, JSW, the Mahindra Group and Reliance Industries (RIL) on whether they still employ Mr. Seth’s firm’s services and if they have plans to persist with it.

An Adani Group official said, “Mr. Seth was hired by Adani Group last year as a brand consultant and his contract with Adani ended in September 2018 and it was not renewed so he is no more associated with Adani Group.”

A spokesperson for the Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Group said that Mr. Seth worked as a brand consultant with them for a year between 2015 and 2016. “His contract expired in 2016 and we have not engaged him since then,” said a JSW official.

A Mahindra Group spokesperson, in an e-mail reply to a query from The Hindu said, “As on date, Mr. Suhel Seth is not an advisor to the Mahindra Group.” A similar query e-mailed to RIL had not elicited a response at the time of going to press. On October 12, Tata group firm Tata Motors had asked Suresh Rangarajan, head of its corporate communications, to proceed on leave after allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 11:22:14 AM |

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