Article (February-2020)


Draw a line!

Bhaskar Dhariwal

Designation : -   Manager

Organization : -  


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It is the employer's duty to provide a safe work place to all the employees. But, it's the moral and ethical responsibility of everyone to see and oppose towards his/her unwanted or unwelcome behavior.

Various States of India are having a very tough & stringent rules for deployment of female employees during the odd hours or during the normal working hours as well. Sexual Harassment at workplace is not a new subject for discussion, but it has received all due attention of various legal bodies and Central Government after the Supreme Court landmark Judgment as "Vishakha Guidelines". Subsequently an Act, came in to force on 9 December 2013, named "Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013".

Many a times, a person in an organization, so casually cross the lines that he/she doesn't came to know about his/her unwanted or unwelcomed behavior for others. And many times it is well intended, as, it happened with Riddhi in her new organization and even more surprisingly in her first meeting with COO, in the presence of her HR Manager.

Most of the time, the inherent culture of the organization plays a vital role in encouraging or discouraging this kind of behavior in organization. Same has happened at "Prycona", where even HR Manager doesn't have a sense of what is right and where to draw the line, when it comes to a professional talk with a colleague or a subordinate or an employee from other department. It is the collective responsibility of all the employees working in the organization to maintain the cohesive work environment, with proper discipline and respect for all, irrespective of gender. Overseeing the wrong behavior at workplace and not voicing the same at right place & time is also termed as a wrong behavior towards maintaining the positive work environment and good culture at organization.

If we analyze the culture of the "Prycona", it seems that everyone is aware of and feeling the wrong and unwelcome behavior of Ravi but nobody wanted to raise the voice against the same. Somewhere, this kind of behavior of ignoring is resulted in to creating a wrong culture for the Organization in a longer run.

Keeping quiet for the kind of incident happened with Riddhi may further build the level of confidence of a person like Ravi in any Organization. In 80% cases of sexual harassment incidences in Indian organizations, victims like Riddhi, tend to leave the organization quietly, without raising any voice and leaving more Riddhi's in the organization to suffer.

This is not a matter of new Joinee or old employee in the organization. Harassment can happen with anyone and equal amount of seriousness & transparency must be shown to each case.It can be a general feeling of a new joinee, that he/she is a new to the organization and how the management will take the complaint. But it is the responsibility of a HR Person to induct a new Joinee in a way that he/she develop trust & respect the organizational policies and its procedures. It was really unexpected from a HR Manager like Neelam to overlook such comments from Ravi.

Following could have been a pre-emptive effort from Riddhi' side who is facing such or similar kind of behavior at any organization:

  • Riddhi could have STOP Ravi in first instance only, by raising her voice or showing her discomfort for such type of talk or comments. Perhaps, other would also join her.
  • Whenever, any loose talk or wrong comments passed on by any of the person, victim must stop that person publically, in an assertive manner.
  • Have faith in organization policies and procedures and make a formal complaint to Internal Committee.
  • If at any point of time, the person like Riddhi feels that Internal Committee is consisting of Ms. Neelam as presiding officer, Anjali Gupta and external NGO Ms. Sheela Das are highly influenced by the person involved in Harassing, may go ahead with the complaint to the committee and if any point of time feels biased approach, may escalate the issue to higher ups or there are other external way of complaint also exists as per the Act. Same can be used.
  • Many organizations Follow POSH BOX and such kind of repeated behavior can be reported anonymously also.
  • Training programs on "Gender Sensitization & Preventions of Sexual Harassment at Workplace" may be conducted from HR side, preferably, 100% population of the organization must be covered in such kind of trainings, from top to bottom, as it can happen at any level or with anyone.
At the end, it can be concluded that, it is the responsibility of employer to provide the safe working environment to each and every one. But it is the individual responsibility to check its own behavior, that where to draw the line.