Safety is everyone’s cup of tea – Ethics and POSH

A safe and inclusive workplace is a fundamental right for every employee. Sexual harassment in the workplace not only violates this right but also creates a hostile environment that can have severe physical, emotional, and psychological effects on the victims. To ensure a respectful and secure work environment, organizations worldwide have implemented the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) policy. In this comprehensive blog, we delve into the significance of Ethics and POSH, its implementation, and how it contributes to fostering a healthy workplace culture.

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment encompasses unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that creates an uncomfortable or offensive environment for an individual. It can take various forms, including verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct. Recognizing these forms is crucial for both employees and employers to prevent and address such behaviour effectively.

Why is it MANDATORY to have POSH policy and committee in place?

Importance of POSH in the Workplace

1. Legal Compliance: Many countries have laws in place that mandate organizations to have a POSH policy to prevent and address sexual harassment. Complying with these laws is not only ethical but also a legal obligation.

2. Creating a Safe Environment: A robust POSH policy establishes a safe environment where employees can express themselves without the fear of harassment. This, in turn, boosts morale and productivity.

3. Protecting Employees: The policy safeguards employees from any form of harassment, ensuring their physical and mental well-being.

4. Preventing Litigation: Implementing a strong Ethics and POSH policy can help organizations avoid legal disputes, damage to reputation, and financial liabilities arising from harassment cases.

“Neglecting POSH training “could cause serious reputational harm to organisations. News of sexual harassment occurrences often travel quickly in the age of social media and heightened public scrutiny, damaging a company’s brand reputation severely. Investing in Ethics and POSH training conveys that a company cares about its community and can help keep its reputation intact,” stated our honourable founder, Mr. Sumit Manon on People Matter. 

What are the factors a company must consider when implementing POSH policies?

1. Awareness and Education: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees and management about sexual harassment, its forms, and its consequences. This promotes a shared understanding of the issue.

2. Clear Definition: Clearly define what constitutes sexual harassment in your organization’s policy. This avoids ambiguity and empowers employees to recognize and report such behaviour.

3. Reporting Mechanism: Establish a confidential and accessible reporting mechanism for victims to come forward without fear of retaliation.

4. Prompt Action: Once a complaint is received, ensure that it is promptly investigated and appropriate action is taken. Transparency in the process builds trust.

5. Support for Victims: Provide support to victims, including counselling and protection against any adverse actions. It is essential to create an environment where victims feel heard and valued.

6. Accountability: Hold harassers accountable for their actions, regardless of their position in the organization. This sends a strong message that harassment will not be tolerated.

7. Regular Audits: Periodically review and update the Ethics and POSH policy to align with changing laws and evolving workplace dynamics.

So how does The Response Company put the POSH policy in place for different companies?

Our client recognizes that employees/associates / third parties/customers may not always feel comfortable about discussing their concerns with internal parties. To ensure this TRC proposes guidelines for raising complaints related to handling sexual harassment matters and communicating them to the appropriate authority.

1. The key deliverables covered:

a. Highlight the process of receipt of guiding complainants when the same are reported via helpline.

b. Highlight the process of complaints via dedicated email address and as pertaining to whistle-blower complaints

c. Highlight the process of receipt of complaints via postal address and as pertaining to whistle-blower complaints

d. Highlight the process of recording all such complaints and communicating the same to the appropriate channel within Omnivore

e. Highlight the process of recording follow-up requests and addressing the same.

2. The implementation of this helpline will assist the management of Omnivore to:

a. Encourage employees to report any attempt or sexual harassment without the fear of retaliation and full confidentiality by TRC-managed POSH helpline services. The helpline is to act as a guidance point to guide complainants on the procedure for filing complaints under policies related to Ethics and POSH.

b. Identification of sexual harassment incidents/ other acts of gender-based violations reported by employee / anonymous caller and timely escalation to authorized Person or Internal committee members nominated by Omnivore to further investigate and redressal.

c. Ensure that there is an ethical corporate culture with employees/ partners/ vendors strictly adhering to Omnivore’s POSH policy and any deviation to be reported to the POSH Helpline managed by TRC.

d. Identify areas that require improvement and corrective actions.

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture

  • Zero Tolerance: Foster a culture of zero tolerance for harassment. This involves reinforcing the idea that harassment will not be tolerated in any form.
  • Inclusive Leadership: Promote gender equality and inclusive leadership practices that value the contributions of all employees.
  • Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue about workplace behaviour and ensure that employees feel comfortable discussing concerns.
  • Supportive Environment: Build a supportive and empathetic work environment where employees stand up against harassment and support one another.

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