Written by Janani Sampath
The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 or the ‘PoSH Act’ has the potential to make workplaces inclusive.
The PoSH Act offers women the platform to raise complaints regarding sexual harassment at the workplace and seek redressal.
The Act was enacted in 2013, almost 16 years after the Vishaka Guidelines made it mandatory for institutions in India to come up with provisions to tackle complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace and a redressal mechanism for the same. The law is seen as a milestone as it creates a level-playing field for women guaranteeing them a discrimination-free environment in both organized and unorganized sectors.
The Act mandates the formation of Internal Complaints Committees (ICCs) to act as a watchdog and look into the complaints, ensuring that merits of complaints are ascertained and due action is taken. The onus has been on the companies to conduct regular awareness programs for the smooth implementation of PoSH.
Another highlight is that it makes it compulsory for the company to include the number of cases filed if any, and their disposal under this Act in the annual report.
A big step towards inclusion
Studies have indicated that an inclusive workforce contributes to GDP and that businesses stand to gain immensely, the implementation of the PoSH Act has become a benchmark.
The Best Companies for Women in India (BCWI), a gender analytics exercise conducted annually by Avtar and US-based cultural change champion, Working Mother, has focused on the best practices.
In 2020, the top 100 BCWI chosen based on their diversity and inclusion policies displayed a dedicated approach. Among them, 92 percent of them had classroom training; 89 percent had e-learning modules and campaigns. While 89 percent used posters and circulars to spread the word and message, about 42 percent used virtual learning and leadership messages. In the top 10 BCWI, with all companies adopting three or more best measures.
The 2020 BCWI report also underlines the importance of consistent messaging and engagement with the employees. The best companies ensure that their policies extend to include virtual environments, as they also look for immediate grievance redressal and strong leadership messaging, help enforce zero tolerance.