The POSH Act In A Hybrid World
An activist once said to a judge in Ahmedabad, “Sexual harassment is everywhere.” As a woman addressing a male judge, one can only imagine the context in which this was said. It takes us back to the specific case of Phaneesh Murthy, a celebrated software executive who had to resign from INFOSYS because he allegedly harassed his secretary, Reka Maximovitch.
We are also reminded of the noteworthy incident of Supreme Court Judge Asok Kumar Ganguly who, while working in the Human Rights Commission, was accused of harassing his law intern, a lady half his age.
Maybe the activist was right, sexual harassment might just be everywhere.
The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy provides a platform for the prevention, prohibition, and redressal of any sort of sexual harassment of women at work. While the existence is heavily influenced by the discrimination and intimidation which women face in the traditional workforce, the subtle shift of work culture to a hybrid model forces us to reconsider the applicability of this policy. Also, keeping equality in mind, sadly, the law does not recognize harassment against men.
The Dichotomy of Remote Working and POSH
It’s gullible to believe that change is a one-dimensional aspect.
A POSH policy and remote working may seem like two different concepts altogether but, if we think practically, having a flexible work environment calls for the better implementation of an evolved POSH policy too.
To help you get clarity, here are two extremities that point towards the need for change in reforms in a remote working scenario, now more than ever.
Harassment is not limited to a space
If you think sexual harassment happens only in physical boundaries, you really need to re-think your stance. Especially today where bullies can attack people through texts, hate speech, video calls, and subtle offensive comments even on phone calls.
Communication Boundaries and Barriers
As insane as this may sound, not knowing what’s happening also means that hybrid working may come with a lot of benefits, but it also has its fair share of disadvantages. One of them is the huge gap in communication between the employees and the employer. Those working remotely may not be as open with their managers as those who work in the office. In fact, in a report by Flamingo, 55% of employees said that the feeling of “belongingness” has reduced due to remote working. The numbers surely indicate a sense of insecurity and hesitation that might result in them not openly addressing what is happening to them. The need to create awareness about a POSH policy should take priority in such a situation.
After all, even if the definition of a “workplace” may change from time to time, what remains constant is the responsibility of the organization to protect its employees.
How Can POSH Be Implemented In A Hybrid Space?
Have An Anonymous Grievance Box
And make it accessible. For example, the Ministry of Women & Child Development has created a She-Box for women to register their complaints of sexual harassment online. Given that many employees are working from their homes lately, your organization also needs to have a common site where people can easily file complaints against sexual harassment.
A Zero-Tolerance Policy
The policies of your organization are a mirror of what you believe in. Make sure to have a zero-tolerance policy that includes both POSH and allied policies like bullying and mental harassment as a part of it.
Regular Internal Communication
Communication is integral and it becomes all the more necessary when employees are scattered across various places. Keep a track of what your employees are going through, not just their work but also their personal experiences. Share a survey or a feedback form where they get the opportunity to express themselves and their problems freely.
Make Time For Psychoeducation
Nothing beats knowledge and awareness. You must organize webinars and meetings that remind and educate employees about sexual harassment and the company’s stand on it. Sometimes, even when people know what’s right, a subtle assurance and reminder gives them faith.
Sexual harassment doesn’t need a particular place to happen. It can occur anywhere, at any time. The woman activist merely stated a possible fact. Let’s do something to bring a change to this narrative, for everyone’s sake. Before we realize, it’s just too late.