Reflections on the state of women safety at the workplace in India
As more and more women join the corporate workforce, India Inc. takes notice of certain issues faced by them, key among them is safety at the workplace. Organizations across the country must strive towards building safer establishments and reinforce confidence among working women. This report delves into the areas of concern with regard to women’s safety at the workplace in India and provides insights into how organizations can work towards allaying fears and fostering a women-friendly workplace.
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 is an Indian legislative act passed on 9 December 2013. This Act supersedes previously laid archaic laws and guidelines. It defines sexual harassment at the workplace and establishes a system of redressal and safeguards against false complaints. It covers various other aspects of workplace harassment and defines the “aggrieved woman” who will be protected under the Act.
The provisions of the Act aim to protect the interest of all women employees and fuel the adoption of good governance practices. These are the aspects covered:
- What is sexual harassment?
- Who does it apply to?
- Who is responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act?
- Where is it applicable
Our report details some of the best practices for handling sexual harassment cases in the workplace and how organizations can implement them.
- Invoking a strong commitment to the cause
- Creating a mechanism to address different perspectives
- Managing issues effectively
- Utilizing diligent investigative mechanisms
While Governments and organizations do undertake several efforts to sensitize people about gender parity, women’s safety and sexual harassment, it is an unfortunate event triggers widespread debates and discussions about the subject. These debates in turn have a cascading effect across society, which will enable cities to become more gender sensitive. The onus has to be on eliminating women’s safety issues at an early stage than adopt reactionary measures. Some initiatives that organizations can take to improve workplace safety for women in India:
- Getting women to speak up
- Deploying technology
- Instituting gender-sensitization trainings
- Mandating appropriate work practices
- Instituting safe work conditions
- Adopting a zero tolerance policy
- Dealing with cultural matters
- Engaging third-party service providers