Workplaces around the world have gone virtual in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new realities have unleashed new dynamics, employers need to guard against sexual harassment that can mar even remote workspaces.
As a responsible corporate citizen, the Mahindra Group has always prioritised a safe, friendly and transparent workplace. The Group’s POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) policy has been regularly updated to reflect the realities of changing times. It now even covers both physical and psychological safety at the workplace. Last year, the Group launched the Speak Up campaign, to spread awareness about POSH. The initiative was aimed at rooting out any situation and/or behaviour that could be deemed harassment of a sexual nature.
In the new normal, as homes transform into workplace adjuncts, the focus of the campaign has been broad based to cover even virtual offices. “At Mahindra, we believe in providing a safe and inclusive workplace to all our employees,” says, Ruzbeh Irani, President, Group Human Resources & Communications. All POSH-related matters are treated with utmost sensitivity and confidentiality, with a fair hearing to all parties involved.”
Sexual harassment is broadly defined as unwelcome advances, requests of a sexual nature, physical touch or behaviours that foster a hostile or offensive work environment, or that can interfere with an employee’s work performance.
So, what constitutes sexual harassment in remote working scenarios? It includes comments of a sexual or discriminatory nature being made during voice/ video calls, dressing inappropriately on video calls, emails, texts or chat messages requesting sexual favours, inappropriate and/or unsolicited comments, jokes, pictures, or GIFs sent via email, text, or chat messages, and stalking on social media.
The Group’s POSH policy is clear and unambiguous. “Our gender-neutral POSH policy provides protection against any form of sexual harassment at work. Please do not hesitate to ‘Speak up’ should you feel harassed at work,” said Mr. Irani.
Mahindra has made it simple and easy to raise a complaint under the POSH Act. In the inadvertent situation of an employee facing sexual harassment, the employee has to simply submit a complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) within three months of the incident. The committee is mandated to issue a notice to the respondent within seven working days of receiving the complaint. The ICC has to conduct an inquiry and submit a report within 90 working days, and it will be acted upon by Mahindra within 60 working days.
“Mutual respect, trust and collaboration build a better work environment,” adds Mr. Irani. If any employee has faced sexual harassment in the workspace, physical or virtual, or knows of anyone who has, it is time to ‘Speak Up’. And rest assured that the Mahindra Group will take prompt and appropriate action, without prejudice.
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