Article: 23% of organizations are not fully compliant with the PoSH Act: KelpHR

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23% of organizations are not fully compliant with the PoSH Act: KelpHR

If companies have only four steps to be compliant, why aren't they taking the necessary steps? Here are findings from a recent survey.
23% of organizations are not fully compliant with the PoSH Act: KelpHR

Since ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 came into existence five years ago, some organizations have implemented it with a lot of commitment whereas others have not. A survey by KelpHR was carried out to understand how effectively the Act has been implemented across corporate India and the gaps that still exist.  The survey also evaluated major reasons for low reporting and how organizations can work on improving their culture. 

While there are only four simple steps to be compliant – Create, Setup, Ensure and Report, there are several companies which have shared gaps in the implementation of one or more of these steps. 

200 people from across 160 companies responded to the survey, which was launched in April 2018 and closed by May 2018. The respondents were primarily HR Heads or professionals in the HR function, Internal Committee (IC) presiding officers or members, Legal heads, CXOs and so on. The profile of the respondents is also an indicator of the fact that very few leadership team members (9% CXO ’s; 45% HR and 23% of IC members who responded to the survey) chose to respond to the survey and this seems to be the core responsibility of HR. While ownership might lie there, the involvement and onus for the same should be higher within the leadership as well. 

Here some key insights from the survey. Find the detailed survey findings here. 

  • 23% of organizations are not fully compliant to the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 – Despite the legal implications and the seriousness of the issue almost a quarter of the organizations are not complying with the Act in totality. This shows a sense of apathy towards dealing with workplace harassment and more importantly, towards creating a workplace that is safe and equitable. Non-compliance also affects the company’s credibility and its employer brand. 

  • 77% of the organizations have made the Act Gender neutral – This is a significant trend because it shares the underlying messages that organizations want to give. They do not want to be seen as meting out preferential treatment to women. In addition to that, they are committed to becoming inclusive by involving the male employees also in creating a safe workplace. 

  • 45% of the organizations said that the Act made their workplace safer; while 5% did not see any benefit – The biggest benefit is the enhancement of awareness within employees about the Act as well as how it has the potential to empower them. Even so, less than half of them believe that the Act made their workplace safer than before. The compliance to the Act, has definitely created a safer workplace (45%), Increase in Team Morale (22%); 10% of the organizations even saw a reduction in attrition.  


  • A zero-tolerance company culture and an empowered Internal committee is the key to prevention – Sexual harassment of various forms like physical, verbal, non-verbal, online on social media continue to exist across organizations. There are many different steps including the compliance to the Act, creating continuous awareness that companies are taking to reduce the incidence of such behaviors and increase reporting. The most effective steps among them is to create a strong company culture of zero tolerance towards such harassment, and having an empowered Internal committee that has the ability to handle the reported cases in a dispassionate manner. 

  • Top Enhancements needed on the Act: Gender Neutral & better tracking of complaint numbers – The Act itself needs some enhancements in order for it to become more comprehensive.

    • KelpHR believes that ensuring gender neutrality in the Act will help get a better buy-in from the male employees and our survey conducted in 2016 also showed that 5% of male employees also undergo sexual harassment. 

    • The annual reporting of incidents by corporates needs to be more centralized.  There is a lot of confusion about where to file the annual reports. And the number reported for FY 2016-17 was only 406, a very meagre number as compared to the (~)27,000 cases that were reported in USA during the same period. Centralized reporting and a better tracking mechanism of the complaint numbers are elements that can be added to the act.

A worrying trend that is also emerging is the fact that the top two reasons for not reporting incidents is the fear of retaliation or loss of job and victim shaming. These are extremely serious concerns for an employee to have within the organization. It has a direct link to the company culture and also shows the lack of trust in the ICC. Addressing this should be a high priority for organizations if they want to become truly safe. Organizations have to ensure that they define steps that can affect the overall culture in a more positive manner. It is clear that organizations understand this and which is why 71% of them have shared that “Building a strong company culture” is the most common preventive measure to reduce complaints. 

Companies are also realizing that social media related harassment (24%) in the form of Cyberstalking, Chat, and misuse of Photos seems to be on the rise and employees need to be sensitized on this.  A lot of loopholes exist when we review how this might be managed or dealt with, in the current setup. Also there is this big question on whether social media harassment occurrence are to be considered as occurring within the workplace or outside of the workplace and thus not in the scope of the Act.  Therefore, there is a need to find better ways to manage such incidents before they start becoming prevalent or a norm. 

Topics: Employee Relations, Life @ Work

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