POSH at the workplace and how seriously organisations in India take it

The Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) at the workplace is a critical issue in India, and organisations are taking it more seriously than ever before. The POSH Act, which was passed in 2013, aims to protect employees from sexual harassment and create a safe and secure working environment.

One of the key components of the POSH Act is the requirement for organisations to have an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in place. The ICC is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints of sexual harassment, and for making recommendations to the organisation on how to address the issue.

Many organisations in India have been quick to establish ICCs and have implemented policies and procedures to prevent and address sexual harassment. However, there are still some organisations that have not fully embraced the POSH Act and do not take the issue as seriously as they should.

One of the main challenges in implementing POSH at the workplace is the lack of awareness and understanding of the issue among employees. Many employees are not aware of their rights and the processes that are in place to address sexual harassment. This lack of awareness can lead to underreporting of incidents and a lack of accountability for those who engage in such behaviour.

According to the Walchand Plus survey which was conducted in January 2023 amongst companies across India, it was found that 20-30% of the organisations do not conduct any POSH training for their employees.

In such organisations it was found that their employees were not even vaguely aware of the POSH Act and most of their male employees were unaware that their casual behaviour in the workplace may be covered by the POSH Act. Similarly, majority of the female employees are also unaware that many statements and behaviours that makes them feel uncomfortable are unlawful and they have a right to a grievance forum and a safer work environment.

The research also shows that around 30% of employees believe that most of the time legitimate cases of sexual harassment are ignored. About 30% of workers in the formal sectors have little faith in the available IC (Internal Committee) as a means of redress.

Organisations can take several steps to improve their POSH compliance and create a safer working environment for all employees. These steps include:

  • Regular training and awareness programs for all employees to educate them about their rights, the definition of sexual harassment, and the processes in place to address it.
  • Encouraging employees to report incidents of sexual harassment, and providing them with a safe and confidential reporting mechanism.
  • Holding employees who engage in sexual harassment accountable for their actions, and implementing appropriate disciplinary measures.
  • Reviewing and updating policies and procedures regularly to ensure they are in line with the latest laws and best practices.

In conclusion, organisations in India are taking POSH seriously and are implementing various measures to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. However, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that all employees in India feel safe and respected at their workplace. It’s important for all organisations to take the necessary steps to prevent and address sexual harassment, and for employees to speak out against any form of harassment they may experience.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Pallavi Jha
Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Training India. Pallavi has diversified exposure to various management practices in areas such as training and development, HR, consulting and business restructuring, covering a wide range of industries from media, entertainment, technology to the financial services sector and the engineering industry.

She has been a vocal spokesperson for industry associations and has chaired and moderated panel discussions involving India's leading business leaders. She has played a pioneering role in setting up India's first Finishing School focused on soft -skills training.

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