“Men and Women have roles- Their roles are different, but their rights are equal”. And with the same note, it is very important to treat women with dignity and respect because we deserve the same as men.
Workplace safety is and was always an unsolved issue, debated across the globe at all times. However, the number of cases is rapidly increasing, leaving an alarming note to bring a change.
With time, women are independent, financially strong, and earns good pay to support themselves and their family. However, women are mistreated in their workspace by their co-workers. And since some stories are so horrifying, women are forced to leave their dream job behind just to save themselves from the mental trauma of being harassed.
According to a recent survey, 81 percent of women have faced sexual harassment in their lives, which leads to anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, and a rapid downfall in both physical and mental health.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment comes in the form of an unwanted or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. It is one of the most meretricious acts, making a person feel less of herself, offended, humiliated, degraded, or intimidated. It is non-consensual and unacceptable. However, not every woman reports sexual harassment happening in the workplace.
Let’s read through the form of sexual harassment:
Quid Pro Quo:
Quid Pro Quo Is a Latin phrase that means a favor in exchange for a favor. In better words, this is for that. However, the expression varies in different contexts. But in the context of sexual harassment, the term means seeking sexual favors in exchange for any work benefits, promotions, salary increments, or fulfillment of any asked favors for that matter.
Hostile Work Environment:
A hostile work environment is a general form of sexual harassment, which is an influence or behavior towards female employees. This kind of created environment makes it very hard for women to work, and thus, they fall prey to harassment or quit their job. Some of the most prominent hostile work environment actions are:
- Depreciative remarks on female workers.
- Gender discrimination.
- Unpleasant comments in private, body shaming, stroking, or grabbing without consent.
- Sending pornographic materials through notes or emails.
- Spreading rumors about their personal life to grab attention.
- Rape or attempted rape
Being in a controlled patriarchal society, women’s safety is always a big question.
Read through 7 important Aspect on Women’s Safety At Workplace.Sexual Harassment Policy:
Every organisation needs to define sexual harassment policy that includes information about:
- Sexual harassment and its forms
- Explain the zero-tolerance approach
- Approaching Team leaders and HR for assistance
- Educate on inappropriate conduct
- Outline consequences.
Create Awareness Among the Employees:
Creating awareness among the employees about women, their safety, and health concerns is very vital. Different techniques and ideas can be used to create impact and awareness. Some organisations create storyboards or stories enacted to touch them emotionally. Some indulge in open discussions, activities, dos and don’ts, and workshops about women’s safety. Organisations should organize wellness programs for their employees considering their physical and psychological health.
Organisations can start with the implementation of guidelines and laws against women’s sexual harassment in the workplace.
Encourage Women to Express:
On a general note, women facing sexual harassment don’t speak up about the worries and abuse they are facing. Reasons for such behavior also come from our household. We teach our daughters to keep quiet and just go with the flow, and the fear inbuilt about voicing their agonizing experience to their close ones is one of the reasons why women don’t open up so much. Also, shame, fear, low self-esteem, and lack of information are some of the factors for women not expressing their agony.
As an organisation, female employees should have a safe and secure environment to grow and nurture, providing them equal opportunities and space, eliminating gender discrimination, and providing them the opportunity to fight social stigma.
Role of a Human Resource Department:
This department is just not for hiring employees but their role includes passing information about safety at the workplace. They stand as the intermediate to highlight or complain to higher authorities about any sexual or nonsexual harassment. During the orientation program, HR should set out the guidelines on sexual harassment to the new employees. The HR is the anchor to take forward any unwelcome behavior faced by the employees to the higher officials and take unbiased decisions.
The organisations can also tie up with counselors and therapists to maintain good mental health for the employees.
Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) on Women’s Safety:
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act) was introduced in order to control sexual harassment happening against women. ICC is compulsory and important for both private and non-private organisations with regards to women safety. When a woman is harassed, she can make a complaint within 90 days of the incident. However, if the employee is not comfortable expressing herself, a close relative, co-worker, or friend can raise a complaint on her behalf. However, written consent should be presented from her, agreeing to the information shared.
It’s the team’s responsibility to investigate, and enquire within 90 days, and provide a report to the organisation within 10 days of completing the investigation.
About The ICC Team:
ICC team should be formed if the organisation has 10 or more employees. It is mandated to have a team of 4 members and 50% of the member should be a woman so the chairperson. The members of the committee need to hold experience in social work/ legal knowledge. Additionally, a third-party member, a social worker committed to working for women’s welfare from any NGO should be enrolled.
It is one of the most essential techniques every woman should learn. Practicing Self-defence and its equipment will give you additional confidence to deal with an assault. Organisations can provide self-defense training for women to protect themselves inside the premises and outside the office. Women should be encouraged to participate and make the best of these programs.
Learn About Emergency Exits:
The organisation needs to maintain emergency exits and also host emergency drills for employees to be aware of the exits. This is useful information for women employees to use in case they are trapped by the assaulter. If the main exit is not applicable, the female employee can use the emergency exit, reach a safe space and reach out to her close one for help.
Emergency Virtual Friend:
Organisations with the maximum number of female employees need to protect and provide them with a healthy environment. I’m Safe App is one such app that can help you achieve your goal. Organisations need to link with the app and provide access to female employees.
The I’m Safe App can be used inside the office to raise an issue or harassment to the ICC committee or the HR (whoever is responsible) and the company is responsible to take action after the inquiry as mentioned above.
This App is a virtual security for women. Employees working on the night shift can be tracked until they reach their destination safely. Employees can make the best use of Fake calls, wherein the phone will ring as usual, and you can pretend to have a conversation while you travel. Other features include SOS, and anonymous reporting if there is an emergency. Within clicks, emergency contacts will be notified immediately.
On a final note, sexual harassment and abuse of women is not a recent story. It has been prevailing for decades and it is still a mystery. Being a part of society, it’s our responsibility to create awareness and put our foot down for a safe and healthy environment for women at home, outdoors, and in the workplace.“If one girl can change the world, what can 130 million girls do”? -Malala Yousafzai.