Article (February-2020)


No point in keeping quiet

Archna Khurana Sharma

Designation : -   Founder HR

Organization : -  Human Rhythms, Ludhiana


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In determining the right people, the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience. - Jim Collins

1- Isn't it true that character attributes play an equally important role if not more?

Company culture amalgamates from the company's philosophy, mission, values, group behaviours and expectations which chart out the path for clarity in goals, talent acquisition choices and execution of each plan. All these factorsoutlinethe company's overall direction and creates workday experience of each employee who are working in organisation.

In this particular case study, Prycona's culture is more about power and position, a culture of silence and victimisation, culture of inappropriate talks and behaviours being avoided in the presence of new joiners. Imagine if HR Manager Neelam would have directly/indirectly shut Ravi when he made uncomfortable comment.

Many organisations' point of view of 'leadership' shows an archetype of aggressive, tough and 'take no prisoners' kind of qualities and has produced leaders who seize whatever they want, without being swayed, without botheration of consequences.

A powerful COO and his charm on senior people of the organisation, where many women are listening to inappropriate talks yet not raising their voice against him creates a doubt on company's code of conduct.

Instead of changing the culture many such organisations have created examples that these behaviours are rewarded with bigger bonuses, raises and promotions.

Prycona display a culture where reporting such behaviours are discouraged because victims are often in positions of low power and voice. Bystander syndrome is another issue, where people see and understand everything but due to various reasons- social/financial, they make a choice to be silent.

Like Ridhi was confused initially, it is important for organisations to understand that conducting gender sensitivity workshops at regular interval or as part of the induction process is crucial.

2- Ridhi can leave the organisation and easily forget what happened. Slowly things will be alright in new organisation with different people. But what if she meets another Ravi? Will she keep changing organisations in fear?

Workplace sexual harassment is not limited to the offender and the accuser. Companies can also be affected by these accusations sometimes bringing in greater losses both in terms of money, equity and time.

Ridhi should file a complaint with IC along with copy to HR and CEO/ Directors of the Organisation without assuming that Neelam- The HR Manager and other IC members will have biased opinion and not take necessary action. When harassment happen, it is up to the organization to respond courageously instead of scapegoating, wrongly placing blame or covering up the incident.

There is a bright red flag on the incident which happened with Ridhi not once but thrice. She should discuss the incidences with the internal committee understanding the guidelines as well and if no actions are taken she can proceed to take alternative action by reporting the matter to police to ensure that the accused is punished.

There are chances that with such weak culture of Prycona, circumstances will be created where she might have to leave the organisation once the complaint is filed or post the decision of the IC but there is no harm in taking a chance and creating a positive example of showing her courage and strength.

3- When we organise and facilitate POSH training in various organisations, it is communicated to all the participants that saying a clear and Loud 'No' is very important on the very first incident when someone makes a sexual advance or say something inappropriately.

During the incidence at company lunch instead of changing seats she should have raised a concern firstly in private with Ravi making it clear and then if repeated she should have raised an alarm publically for the inapt touch. For the perpetrator to take a step back the victim shouldn't wait for the limits to be crossed and then voice out the issue.

Though in this whole case it is not mentioned that Ravi has done something like this with any other colleague but his loose talks on women's body parts clearly depicts that more such cases would have happened.

Many researches verify that no matter what a woman does or not do, such men would take the benefit of people in less power and would still do what they have to do with the mind-set that they are important for organisation and can get away with it.

Ridhi should have discussed it with some of the colleagues in order to communicate her discomfort. Her silence and running away did not resolve the problem instead Ravi took the benefit of this and made advances inside the lift knowing he isn't leaving any evidences.

I would conclude, "This is what happens in many organisation where culture is left to chance, those who covet power and control will wield their influence and the culture of silence will take hold.