April 14, 2024

Only 24% of Indian women are in the workforce, according to a NITI Aayog report published in 2018. CEO of NITI Ayog Amitabh Kant predicted that we can increase India’s GDP growth from 5-6% to 9-10% by doubling this figure of 24% to 48%. 

But let me ask you this, as a country are ready for this change? It’s possible only if our workplaces are secure and safe for working women and there is no gender disparity. 

Indian parliament had passed Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 that came in the force on 9th December 2013 to make our workplaces safe and secure for women. But has the situation really changed? Are our workplaces safe for women to work without feeling threatened? 

The answer still is a No. Instead, it has increased by several folds. 

The reason for this can be more and more women joining the workforce and speaking up against the harassment that they have to face. 

If You Think Sexual Harassment at Your Workplace is not a Thing, You may be Wrong

The #MeToo movement was an eye-opener for the country which brought a number of unreported sexual harassment cases in light. Not only the common working professionals came out as the culprits but several renowned personalities from entertainment, politics, and other fields were called upon. 

A survey conducted by the job portal Indeed concluded that 87% of the women working in tech firms would resign from their job if faced with any incident of sexual harassment. No matter the sample size, 87% is still a huge number in the context.

Are You Aware of the Sexual Harassment Acts?

Most women are not aware of the fact that they are being sexually harassed, taking action against such acts seems out of the picture. Sexual harassment includes a whole lot of things that make women feel uncomfortable or humiliate them. Sexual Harassment includes the following– 

  • Any type of physical advances or contacts
  • Misogynist or sexist remarks
  • Asking for sexual favours
  • Any undesirable non-verbal, verbal or physical conduct involving sexual acts
  • Showing someone pornography forcefully

Make Sure that Your Workplace is Secure for Women

As an organization/company,  you must have zero tolerance for sexual harassment. It should not be compromised at any cost. To do that, you might have to make some changes and follow the guidelines under POSH law and organize POSH training for your employees.

POSH Law came into existence to prevent women from falling into the clutches of sexual harassment at their workplace and also to ensure proper redressal of their complaints. It helps to bring about a gender-neutral work environment. The POSH act makes it mandatory to conduct POSH training at the workplace. 

POSH training helps the employees to understand the legal framework that is applicable to workplaces. It also sensitizes the managers to maintain a safe and gender-neutral environment and also teaches the Internal Committee of the office how to resolve and handle the complaints.

Don’t Tolerate Any act of Sexual Harassment. Period!

The path towards a completely gender-neutral work environment is not a bed of roses. We still have a long way to go and as a woman, your silence is not going to help that process. Don’t blame yourself for the co-workers or managers who have misbehaved or harassed you. Bring your complaints to a responsible body and take action against such people. Making anyone feel uncomfortable or performing unwelcoming gestures should never be acceptable.

The article was originally posted on Counsel Quest. Counsel Quest is a law firm in Gurgaon, fighting against sexual harassment at the workplace. The firm organizes POSH training sessions from time to time to teach the corporates how to prevent this from happening and create a safe environment to work for everyone.