14% rise in sexual harassment complaints at the workplace

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Delhi govt to form 5-member panel to look into sexual harassment complaints at workplaces
Delhi government will form a five-member committee to monitor prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace, said, Delhi Women and Child Development Minister, Rajendra Pal Gautam

According to India Inc https://inc42.com/ study & report on sexual harassment complaints at the workplace 2019-

  • Study shows a 14% increase in cases of sexual harassment in 100 BSE companies
  • Women representation in these companies rose from 25% to 33% in 2019
  • The growth can be attributed to the rise of awareness due to MeToo movement

Indian companies reported more cases of sexual harassment in FY19 compared to a year earlier. Data from BSE 100 companies, which are required to furnish this information, showed a 14% increase in reports of sexual harassment complaints in FY19, based on an analysis of their annual reports by ComplyKaro Services.

Experts say that while an increase in reportage could point to greater awareness about legislation on sexual harassment at the workplace and efforts by companies to make the workplace safer for women, the onus is now a company to make sure that prompt action is taken.

“Women are more prompt these days to report any case of sexual misconduct and it is the responsibility of organizations to take speedy action,” said Suresh Tripathi, vice president, human resource management, Tata Steel.

“Prompt action by organizations will act as a deterrent for others, and it will encourage women to come out and report,” he said, adding, “Increased reporting is good to start with as it means there is more awareness. It (such cases) will plateau and start coming down eventually, “he added.

  • IT major Wipro reported the highest increase in the number of complaints in absolute numbers (41) from 101 in FY18 to 142 in FY19.
  • ICICI Bank and Infosys showed a maximum reduction in absolute numbers with the private lender reporting 40 cases lesser in FY19 and the IT major reporting 8 cases lesser during the fiscal. 

Richard Lobo, Head of HR at Infosys, said “We have always had a strong anti-sexual harassment policy and a governance model to report and curb sexual harassment in any form. We continue to reinforce this through active participation from all our stakeholders, mainly our employees,”

Vishal Kedia, Director, ComplyKaro, which specializes in the prevention of sexual harassment (PoSH) compliance, attributed the increase in a number of complaints to “greater awareness of PoSH law in light of the MeToo movement and the corresponding reputational risk involved for corporates in case efficacious internal redressal mechanism is not provided.” 

“With the increased focus on PoSH in recent times ensuring absolute compliance, heightened awareness and greater employee empowerment, this is bound to happen,” said Saundarya Rajesh, president of Avtar Career Creators and FLEXI Careers India. “One of our surveys of 100 best companies saw a 30% increase in the number of reported instances of sexual harassment between 2018 and 2019,” she added. 

Another data published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development states the number of cases of sexual harassment in the workplace registered in India increased from 54% from 371 cases in 2014 to 570 in 2017. According to the ministry, 533 cases have already been reported in the first seven months of 2018.

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