About 46% respondents think that anything that involved touch tantamount to sexual harassment, according to the Sexual Harassment Industry Report 2016 by KelpHR. The report also mentions that
10% of the respondents are unaware that sexual harassment is a crime and 20% of them have no idea about the prevention of the Sexual harassment at Workplace Act. This data reflects the ambiguity regarding the concept of sexual harassment. To create more awareness and give more clarity on the subject People Matters partnered with KelpHR for a webinar titled “Demystifying ‘prevention of sexual harassment’ at work”. Co-founders of KelpHR, Smita C Kapoor and Viji Hari facilitated the webinar and helped to clear the doubts regarding the prevention of sexual harassment at workplace in an in-depth discussion.
People Matters has previously covered a detailed discussion on sexual harassment and legalities involved for its prevention at the workplace. However, this webinar threw more light on the subject.
Here are few insights based on the discussion:
1. Why is it important to create awareness?
The key takeaway was the significance of creating more and more awareness and building a culture that ensures the safety of employees or anyone associated at the workplace.
The survey revealed that 62% of the victims did not want to report the incident because they were either scared or embarrassed.
To encourage victims to raise their voices against such issues it is imperative to have a culture which encourages them to speak up.
2. How to create awareness?
The organization can begin to solve this problem by utilizing following two tools:
a) Display Posters
Where should it be displayed? : The law mandates to display posters in the lobby, in the reception.
What should it include? : The poster should be stating that the organization has zero tolerance to sexual harassment and anyone can reach out if they are facing the harassment. Poster must also include the contact number, the place or the person they can reach out to.
It is essential that the poster or posters are placed in the reception area such that any employee or any person, even the courier person, who walks into the organization knows how to protect themselves and knows where to put in the complaints.
b) Awareness Sessions
The law states that it is the duty of the employer to organize workshops and awareness programs at regular intervals for sensitizing the employees with the provisions of the Act. The frequency of these sessions is not specified and depends on the organization to determine. It would depend on the culture they want to set and the message they want to communicate to the employees.Generally, the awareness sessions can be conducted at the time of the induction and probably recap every year. The organization can also get the CEO to address the employees on the topic.
To add on to this, the organization can also promote anonymous complaints to ensure that no sensitive case gets missed and preventive measures are taken, providing a safe workplace.
To encourage the practice of anonymous complaints organizations can have a complaint box or suggestion box available for employees to drop complaints.
It is important for the organizations to build strong value and showcase it. This can be done by publishing and sharing cases to depict their intolerance towards sexual harassment. When there will be enough examples of cases successfully dealt with victims would be comfortable to speak up.
(This article is curated from the webinar organized by People Matters & KelpHR on ‘Demystifying Prevention of Sexual Harassment at work’)