The momentum #Metoo movement has gained in the past few months in India is known to all. The movement caught momentum in India with the Tanushree Dutta tweet. The same encouraged women to join the movement and vent it all out.
However, even though the harassment incidents have sprung up mostly from the media industry, it has compelled us to think in the direction of the mainstream workplace issue as well.
Afterall, as per the data provided by National Crime Bureau, 70% of the workplace harassment is never officially reported.
Clearly, wherever there is an exchange of power, such incidences happen. Hence, taking some cues from the #Metoo movement itself, let us see what HR can do to put an end to workplace harassment.
- Finish the bias first-
There is an age-old belief that men harass women. Yes, they do, but it goes vice versa as well. A woman can also harass a woman and a man can also be subjected to it. So, first of all, take steps to end this bias.
- Be ready to help-
According to the Indian National Bar Association, 70% of women do not report workplace sexual harassment in India. The fear of being judged or defamation in the office premise or the fear of losing the job is what may be stopping them. While organising the sessions, HR should instil in the minds of the employees (both men and women) that they are readily available for help. There should be no judgemental remarks, and stringent actions should be taken against the harasser.
- Educate the employees- It is very important to make employees aware of their rights and know as to what is sexual harassment and what isn’t. Let them know that things like mean and vague comments on intelligence, appearance also come under workplace harassment.
- Take sessions and discuss- Organise interactive sessions and encourage employees to voice what according to them sums up to sexual harassment and what doesn’t. Focus on making the work environment more and more inclusive and positive. Also, don’t get deflected by the stereotypes. For letting the hesitation go away, you can even have a quiz named as “Is it workplace harassment?”
- Form a strong anti-harassment committee- As per the Government, there must be an anti-harassment committee in every organisation if there are 10 or more than 10 employees. 46.7% of the surveyors said that the members of the Internal committee were not aware of the sections and the legal provisions. So, choose members wisely.
- Shame the harasser, not the sufferer – 66.7% participants said the Internal Complaints Committee dealt fairly with their plaints, 50% of victims left the place post the closure of the cases. Don’t let this happen in your company. Take stringent actions, hold the perpetrator accountable for what he or she did. Regardless of what the position of the harasser is, he should be shamed. Otherwise, all this will never come to a halt.
Apart from the aforementioned points, it is also really essential to investigate.
As a human you should lend your ears for consolation; as an HR you should investigate.
There is no other way to take some action against the harasser or make him admit his or her wrongdoing(s). Initiate your investigation by asking the witness(es) to narrate what they saw.
Change does take time, but it is inevitable now. Let us all, if not directly then indirectly support this movement. Begin the change from the workplace to put an end to such instances today!