With the enforcement of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 from 9 December 2013, it is high time for workplaces across India to bring in concrete steps to safeguard their women employees against sexual harassment.
Implementing a sexual harassment complaints cell at the workplace would possibly be a first and foremost step to recognize the issue of women safety. It is recommended for any small or medium sized business, which hires women employees to have its own set up of a sexual harassment complaints cell at the workplace.
Here is how you can implement a sexual harassment cell at your workplace and get it going:
1. Appoint a committee: This committee should consist mostly of female members who have been well mentored for their roles and responsibilities. It would be good if a counselor could also be hired exclusively to help in devising company policies for women.
2. Make it autonomous: The functioning of the committee must be made autonomous so that no bias, prejudice, or even favoritism could arise while dealing with issues of sexual harassment. The autonomy would also help the cell to make quicker decisions and to resolve issues.
3. Dedicate separate physical premises to the cell’s functions: Typically, the sexual harassment cell must have its own separate presence in the office wherein the records of women employees, their emergency contact numbers, addresses, blood groups and other relevant information could be maintained meticulously while also being easily available.
If transport facility is provided by the company, then the details of the drivers and the routes taken by them must also be recorded and updated frequently.
4. Mission and vision to be drafted: The statement of purpose and vision of the sexual harassment cell needs to be framed based on the governmental and social guidelines. Furthermore, it must be clearly elucidated and communicated to all the employees.
5. Orientation session to be conducted for all new recruits and existing members: This introductory session must seek to work on recognizing the problem of sexual harassment, what constitutes sexual harassment, how to deal with it while also talking about the measures the company takes in taking care of people in such cases.
6. Periodic meetings between the committee and the female staff: There must be a periodic discussion between the committee members and other women employees over the safety and security issues that they face and how best that they could be tackled.
7. Women development and training sessions to be held: The women harassment cell could also conduct sessions for women employees to be more confident and to counsel them to not have any stigma attached from reporting a case of sexual harassment, in case if they face one. It would also be an innovative venture for the company to have periodic classes on self defense for its women employees or some female centric events.
Eventually setting up a sexual harassment complaints cell and implementing it by a company would not only help keep its female employees safe and secure but it would also build their confidence while showing them in a genuine manner that their company truly values their presence in the company and their work.