Page 8 - IACC Newsletter October November 2013 Issue 13

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IACC’s Women’s Business Council organized a session on “Harassment- Proofing the Workplace” December
20, 2013 at JWMarriott Hotel, Bengaluru
Awareness about workplace sexual harassment is relatively new in India, and there is confusion on what exactly connotes
harassment. Despite the fact that the Vishaka judgment has been in force for many years, companies have been slow in
ensuring compliance, setting up a well constituted internal committee, understanding the criminal law issues and
implications, and perhaps still feel reasonably uncomfortable in addressing this issue. India’s traditional (though fast–
evolving) culture is another factor that is at play.
Indo-American Chamber of Commerce – Women’s Business Council had put forward one such step in right direction with
an event, “Harassment- Proofing the Workplace”. The event was organized at JW Marriott Bengaluru, 24/1, Vittal Mallya
Road, Bengaluru on Friday, December 20, 2013.
Mr. Rabindra Srikantan, MD of ASM Technologies Ltd and Chairman of IACC Karnataka Chapter welcomed the speakers
and participants present at the event.
Buy in and commitment from the top leadership is critical, in issues of workplace harassment, said Mrs. Nirmala Menon,
Founder & CEO, Interweave Consulting.
This issue of sexual harassment primarily is about respect for the individual, not just a bunch of laws, and we should
remember that. However the criminal implications of the new laws are not very clear, and need to evolve and be fine-
tuned, said Mr. Stephen Mathias, Partner, Kochhar & Co.
The criticality of compliance by companies has been very clearly outlined during this conference and discussion, said Mrs.
Priya Chetty Rajagopal, WBC Chair and Panel Moderator, and companies should work quickly to ensure that they ensure
and follow the new POSH laws in place. Companies need to ask themselves: Do we want to do just what is right, or also do
what is good?
Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, Chairman & MD of GE India Technology Center, shared that as good organizations, it should be
kept in mind that a lot of issues around this surface and impact hiring, retention, risk mitigation, diversity and can raise or
lower a company as an attractive career choice for individuals. While one follows the law strictly, adhering to higher
internal company guidelines to ensure a safe workplace is critical. Dr. Katragadda addressed a query on gray areas in the
POSH guidelines saying 'when in doubt, please report'. He assented that training and communication is critical' and that
the internal committee should be, and perceived to be neutral and fair.
Ms. Supriti Bhandary, Talent Advisor talked about the importance of these laws in spirit as well in execution , and that it
should not be misconstrued as a demonization of men or a talibanisation of the workforce. The panel discussion saw a lot
of interaction from the audience, who were quite keen to know the various aspects related to workplace harassment.
IACC organized the event so that participants go back with both informed and aware, and that everyone can work towards
a safe and productive workplace. Kochhar & Co was a knowledge partner for the event. The event provided a good
opportunity for the participants to meet and get informative inputs from the speakers. The event was extremely well
attended by well-known companies like Britania, Yahoo!, Volvo, Samsung, Terex, Biocon, Audi, Toyota Kirloskar, to a name
few. The guests enjoyed every bit of the event, and one could visibly see its effect through the networking and discussions
that happened during the breakfast.