The recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee Report, which has an entire section devoted to sexual harassment of women at the workplace, plug several loopholes in the existing legal framework and in the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 that is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The Verma panel clearly defines the responsibility of the employers in ensuring a safe workplace for women employees. Among other things, it calls for the removal of internal conciliation proceedings, an external Employment Tribunal to investigate all complaints, eliminating the limit of three months for filing a complaint, eliminating punitive action against women in the case of a false complaint, and making employers liable if the workplace environment is proven to be conducive to the prevalence of sexual harassment.
While some of these suggestions may make employers apprehensive, especially in terms of what they may entail by way of risks and liabilities for the organisation, on the whole, they are in sync with the values of every one of corporate India’s model citizens, and must be welcomed.
It is time for employers to acknowledge that sexual harassment is a serious problem that affects many women employees. The onus of ensuring women’s safety and gender equity is with the employer, and hence, it is only fair that they are held accountable for implementation of the measures mandated by law to make the workplace safe for employees.
While most companies have policies and guidelines in place on women safety and protection against sexual harassment, the recommended changes in the law will impel companies to take their enforcement more seriously – in effect, to have a policy of zero tolerance on sexual harassment. This is, in fact, the focus of our cover story in this issue. In Zero Tolerance Is The Best Policy, we have analysed what companies are doing today to create safe workplaces for their women employees, and how HR needs to spearhead the necessary changes with courage, innovation and execution excellence.
Indeed, as the HR function evolves with the times, the HR professional too has to evolve to keep pace with the changing organisational demands, as the 25 winners of People Matters’ Are You In The List – HR Young Leader Awards 2012, revealed this month.
On January 24th, India’s young HR leaders were introduced to the fraternity in a grand Awards night ceremony that scores of HR veterans travelled across the country to witness and enjoy. Conceived as an annual event to celebrate the most promising HR leaders in India, we at People Matters believe that the Are You In The List Awards is also a platform to rethink the role of HR as a business function, foster pride in the HR profession, and energise the community to step out of their comfort zones and take risks that move the organisation to the next level.
In this issue, we present the 25 winners, their aspirations, and their vision of HR going forward. They are the leaders who are poised to drive the HR agenda in the future, and People Matters is excited to watch them fulfill their potential.
As always, in keeping with our mission to be more relevant to our readers, and help drive the transformation agenda in the HR community, we seek your valuable inputs and suggestions. Do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Esther Martinez Hernandez