India’s law on the prevention and prohibition of sexual harassment against women at the workplace is over three years old. And with that, your December 2016-January 2017 cover story titled Halting harassment? is rightly timed.
The subject of workplace sexual harassment has caught the attention of CEOs. The state of unpreparedness within some organizations to effectively deal with harassment complaints has also been widely reported, leading to reputational risks. In that respect, your story offers useful guidance on how in-house counsel have increased awareness, strengthened their internal complaints committees (ICCs), bettered their investigation tools and systems, and handled complaints more efficiently. Thank you for your efforts.
Government has also been making significant efforts in this direction. Recently, the Maharashtra State Commission for Women launched a unique initiative to train and create awareness among principals and members of the harassment committee at educational institutions. It is proposed that in the first phase, over 15,000 ICC members from 4,635 colleges will be trained. The programme is proposed to be extended to the corporate sector and to the state government in its second phase.
Since three years have passed, employers will need to initiate the process of replacing their committee members. The law allows the presiding officer and other members of the ICC to hold office only for this period of time. My article, Sexual Harassment Committee – Time For A Change!, which was recently published online by the Society for Human Resource Management in India, explores this handover in depth.