While you might not have any reported cases of sexual harassment in your organization, it should not be surprising that it exists in your workplace too. You will be astonished to know that an extraordinary percentage of women experience sexual harassment in their workplace.
Surveys suggest that a large number of women experience sexual harassment in their workplace, either in verbal or physical form. And those who haven’t experienced it first-hand, definitely know someone else who has.
Cases of sexual harassment reported an increase of 45% from 371 in 2014 to 539 in 2017.
Why do Organizations need to Make the Workplace Safe?
Survey by Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace concluded that an astonishing 60% of women have faced sexual harassment at work and out of those, 90% have not reported the incidence. Not just this during surveys men have reported that their female colleagues do in fact face sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Sexual harassment is illegal- Sexual harassment is a horrific violation of female human rights. It has been declared illegal to sexually harass a woman in the workplace under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) PoSH Act of 2013. Prevalence of sexual harassment makes the workplace environment unfavorable for women.
- It makes business sense- The incidence of harassment can make the workplace a hostile environment and hinder with the employee’s productivity, leads to low job satisfaction, and increased absenteeism.
Cases of sexual harassment, both reported and unreported, drive skilled employees out of the organization and complicates recruitment of new employees.
How to Tackle Sexual Harassment in your Organization?
A key area of concern in sexual harassment at the workplace is its perceptual nature, which may be viewed differently by different individuals. Hence it is essential that every employee is educated and aware of sexual harassment so that the organization can efficiently tackle it.
- Invoking a strong commitment to this cause- Training modules help in creating awareness about sexual harassment amongst employees. Appropriate training helps in understanding the nature and scope of sexual harassment and how it can be prevented. Creating policies specific to sexual harassment can further encourage women in speaking up and reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Managing harassment issues effectively- Prevention of sexual harassment is not limited to reporting the case, these cases need to be managed well by the organization. Taking every harassment case into account is vital for female employees to feel safe in the workplace.
From receiving small unwanted gifts like flowers to serious sexual abuse, every harassment case should be investigated and resolved as required by the law.
- Efficient investigative mechanism- It is not necessary that all sexual harassment cases that are filed are honest. Every now and then, a false harassment complaint can come up with an ulterior motive. An investigative mechanism is needed to differentiate between sincere and deceitful harassment complaints so that necessary actions can be taken for or against the complainant.
Enhancing Women’s Safety at Organizations in India
The subject of women’s safety in the workplace is a broad umbrella covering various aspect. It is not only favorable for women but for your organization as a whole. But the irony is sexual harassment is only considered a significant subject once it has already been reported in the organization. You need to take measures to prevent and completely eliminate sexual harassment from your organization in its primary stage.
- Adopting a zero tolerance policy- Policies that lay down strict punishments against sexual harassment help in reducing the number of harassment cases. For instance, if a male employee is aware that he is definite to lose his job on any act of sexual harassment, his tendency towards any inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace would reduce.
Continuous monitoring and revision of company policies also decrease the number of sexual harassment cases.
- Instituting safe working conditions- It is important for women to have a safe working environment but it is difficult to achieve it. You can assist your female employees by giving them the options of telecommuting, day-shifts, and catching up on unfinished work at home or even private pick-up and drop facility whenever needed.
- Conducting gender-sensitization training- Awareness programs and training modules are important for both male and female employees in your organization. Set guidelines against sexual harassment not only defines its consequences but also serves as a guide (for reporting and tackling) for female employees who have faced sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Engaging third-party service providers– Third-party services can be associated with the organization to conduct training programs within the organization. These training modules educate women on how to identify sexual harassment and guide them in reporting harassment cases. Rainmaker’s training module- WorkSafe, helps in spreading awareness amongst both male and female colleagues against sexual harassment by creating an interactive and educative session that helps in preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Educative training programs are essential for creating a safe working environment for women. All female employees should be aware of their human rights, whereas male employees should be aware of the consequences of sexually harassing a woman. A work environment where female employees feel safe and valued make for a better company, and a more successful business.
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