Gaurav Tripathi 0:00
Episode Two. And yes, just a second episode but yes, we are already following you will know what we are doing in the show. The Art COVID is a graduate from the campus Law Center, Delhi University. She has been mentored by stalwarts in the field, like judges of the higher judiciary and very evil litigators. So prior to beginning our journey in the practice of law, she served as a researcher to justice weapon sanghi at the Delhi High Court, where she extensively researched on laws relating to sexual offences. This experience she shares is what drove our decision to dive into ensuring safer workspaces. In India, she holds an experience of more than four years
Kovida Priyum 0:51
as a graduate from Delhi University campus Law Center. And so a little bit about my journey, how did I land up into something like polish is, I was while I was researching at the Delhi High Court with justice within Sunday, I was researching extensively on sexual offenses, particularly opslag, which is protection of children from sexual offenses. And I realized that I have a, I have I love how you deal with something like that. And so obviously, understanding sexual offences really, really unjust. So I think it began from there. When I got out, I was not into being a defense lawyer. And Porsche was something right up my alley, I would say. So that’s where I started experimenting with Porsche, I started training. And then I started sitting when I see teams, and it’s been great. I mean, it’s, it’s very, very important, I feel very passionate about it, because it does make a change in people’s attitudes, at least, how they perceive sexual harassment. And I guess, having a conversation about things like these is very, very important. Because that’s how you kind of get an idea about what it is if nobody talks about it, then nobody is educated about anything. And raising awareness about topics such as these is, I feel very, very important.
Shantanu Saha 2:18
Can you just start for at least all the people to grow at or even a lay man who sees the recording later, what is the posh activist, we tend to use acronyms a lot. So you don’t do that.
Kovida Priyum 2:30
The posche Act is basically the sexual harassment of women at workplace prevention, protection, and sorry, prevention, prohibition and redressal. So what it deals with is it lays down certain measures for the prohibition of, you know, sexual harassment at workplace, it is gender specific, it is only for women the app, as such, and to give a little bit of background, what it came from was that in 1992, I guess, there was a case called banarasi case, which what had happened was there was this woman called Mary tavy, who was a social worker, and she used to prevent child marriages from happening. And so, one such marriage was taking place of a child who was below one year old. So she went ahead to stop that. And she was in retaliation to that she was gang raped by certain people of the community where the marriage was taking place. And this went on up until the trial took place, and she did not get justice. So there was this bunch of NGOs who took up the matter and went to Supreme Court and filed a pile regarding the same. That’s where the Supreme Court realized that we do not have adequate measures to, you know, combat something like sexual harassment of women at workplace. So they look down certain guidelines and that judgment, which are called the vishakha guidelines. This was back in 1997. Those guidelines were enacted as the Porsche act in 2013. And that is how the Porsche Act came into being. So there are basically guidelines which the Supreme Court had written down to ensure that women are safe at their workplace, which were later enacted into an act. And that’s how, you know, potshot came. We have as per the act, a definition of sexual harassment. And yes, the botched Act does define sexual harassment, but if you will look into it to see because sexual harassment is a very subjective experience, you cannot really define something that is subjective, meaning that it’s different for everybody. So somebody might sexually harass someone else, in a way and somebody else might sexually harass someone else in another way. So there’s no particular definition that we have on it. Of course, it defines it as you know, general terms like unwelcome conduct or physical touch and all of that, but not specifically that you if you touch here, it’s not sexual harassment. If you touch on the back, it’s secular There’s no particular definition. Of course, it’s a very relatively new law. It was enacted in 2013. It’s not that old seven years is really not for you know, something like lower to grow into. So, we have judgments on it. And of course, we are working organizations are working, you have your, you know, organizations that are defining what exactly would constitute sexual harassment as per their policy and what will not, but in general, yes, the posh act defines it somewhat in general terms, but no specific definition is there. Of course, there are judgments coming in, like recently we had this month only Kerala High Court has given out a judgement where they dealt with what is sexual harassment, and they, you know, kind of borrowed some things that will not be taken as sexual harassment, for example, gender bias. So, it’s an evolving law, let’s see where it goes. But as of now, the term is very general, it’s not specific. So kind of encompasses a lot of things within itself.
Shantanu Saha 6:03
So a company can always define a policy which could be encompassing all genders, because you said the accuracy is gender neutral. I mean, it’s not gender neutral,
Kovida Priyum 6:12
is gender specific, it is for the protection of women specifically. But a lot of organizations are supplementing the act, because the act itself says that you have to have a Porsche policy in place, and that is supplemented with the Porsche policy that your organization has, it is to adhere to the Porsche, but it never, you know, objects are gender neutral policy. So a lot of organizations are going for gender neutral policies. These days, of course, also considering that now, there’s a whole lot of new area, propping up with the trans rights coming into place, I think, more and more gender inclusive organizations are forming, you know, very gender neutral policy. Also, let’s understand that gender is not a, you know, it’s a non binary concept. It’s not like that there are only two genders, there are a lot of genders. So I think, very forward organizations who are welcoming of this change have very beautiful policies, which encompass all genders, everything. So sexual harassment is not only, it doesn’t only happen to women, I truly believe that, but the accuracy is only for the protection of women, the you have to be compliant in the sense that you have to ensure that the women are
Shantanu Saha 7:29
waters that that normalization has to be to be compliant. I mean, what is defined? What are what is normalization? I mean, you know, right from who falls under the purview of an organization, and what are the compliances
Kovida Priyum 7:42
to be pushed compliant. The Act mandates that every organization has to be pushed to land in the sense that you have to ensure that no woman is getting sexually harassed at your workplace. But it says that every organization that has more than 10 employees now 10 employees can be contractual, you know, temporary, permanent, what have you. But essentially, if you have more than 10 employees, then you mandate really have to be Porsche compliant. Now, what does it mean to be Porsche compliant, Porsche compliance has five major requirements to it. One is that you have a very clear posh policy, which must adhere to the posh act. So whatever guidelines are there in the posh act, you have to form a posh policy around it again. Some organizations choose to go gender neutral, some organizations invest a lot of time in, you know, deep diving into what or to put in their contract, because the contract doesn’t just deal with sexual harassment, it deals with the whole workplace culture of your organization, right. So yeah, it must adhere to the posture, but you can go around creating gender neutral policies and all that that is your organization’s
Gaurav Tripathi 8:55
Kovida Priyum 8:56
you want it I would say, so yeah, this is there. Then the second thing is you have to have an internal committee, the internal committee is responsible for sitting on these accusations. If in case there is a complaint under the OSH Act, the internal committee is empowered to sit on it adjudicate on it and resolve it, it’s called an inquiry that you conduct under the OSH act. So you have to have an internal committee, it has a certain structure or certain composition. So very senior members sit on it and, you know, females have to be on it and stuff like that. So there are mandatory requirements of every internal committee as well. The third requirement is that there should be an external member on your internal Committee, which is again very important, what it does is, it gives an external perspective to whatever dispute you are dealing with within the organization. Right. So just to ensure that a fair inquiry is being conducted, you have to have an external member in your internal committee. Now, these external members Also are specified in the Porsche act asking who can sit as an external member, they should be basically they should be the NGO workers or somebody very well versed with the law, and stuff like that. So yeah, third requirement is that you have to have an external member. The fourth requirement is that you have to have periodical trainings for your employees, as well as your ICT. Now, these are trainings where, you know, Bosch experts come in and they talk to you about what is flow? And how do you avoid sexual harassment at workplace and what can fall within the definition, what cannot fall within the definition and stuff like that. Basically, it’s a sensitization session that people do for employees, as well as IC teams. Now, the IC teams, because these are usually management people who might not be, you know, very well versed with how to conduct an inquiry, because they’ve not maybe had this kind of experience and stuff like that. So it is very, very mandatory, and a duty of the employer to equip your internal committee with the specific knowledge of how to conduct an inquiry. So which is why the ICT mods with this to be done. be doing periodical trainings about what is happening in the field and stuff like that. The fifth and final requirement is that you have to file annual reports. One goes to the district officer or district officer is appointed at, again, will be district level, you have to submit the internal committee prepares a report about what many cases came? How did you resolve it? How many were resolved in the specific timeline? Because it’s a time bound process? So, you know, particulars about your complaints coming in? And did you get the training sessions done and stuff like that, and one report has to be attached to the, with your annual rec reports. So the fifth measure is that you have to comply with the annual report filing requirements. And once you’re done with these five, you’re supposed to be compliant,
Shantanu Saha 12:01
okay, great. So now, you know, COVID are given that, you know, all these five things have to be matched. Now, what if an organization does not have any female employees at all 100% men, but it will be 100 employees, what do they do?
Kovida Priyum 12:14
So, so the overtime does not only stretch through your employees, as in the aggrieved woman, what we call can be any woman who was sexually harassed at your workplace, right? So it can be a client, it can be a, you know, a third party worker, maybe some sanitization workers were sexually harassed or something like that. So it does not only cover your employees, it covers any woman who comes and says that I was sexually harassed at your workplace, which is why even if you’re an organization that is only male, you have to be Porsche compliant, given that you’re more 10 employees, then you have to be mandate, really Porsche compliant, but in essence, every place even a home with, you know, domestic workers coming in and working, that also has to be Porsche compliant. And their complaints are also dealt with the local committee, though, so every district is supposed to have a local committee as well, which is, you know, formed by the government. And so if there is a domestic worker who’s been sexually harassed, that is where they reported. So in terms of,
Shantanu Saha 13:19
you know, you will send mentioning or training these people in organizations, what is gender sensitisation training? And, you know, how is it different in terms of you can potty act, per se? Or is it that, you know, is it something because people find it difficult to complain about sexual harassment, and that is why you have to sort of sensitize one people may not even know that they are harassing someone, so, it could be unconsciously being done. So, that’s the definition from Absolutely,
Kovida Priyum 13:47
and which is why it is mandatory to have these sensitization trainings. Because if you don’t understand the concept of what is sexual harassment, how are you going to avoid it, right? So in a lot of sessions that I go to the first responses, the men are just sitting like, Okay, this is not for us. This is only for men. And I go, and I talk to them, and I tell them that no, it’s more importantly for you, because if you don’t know what behavior might constitute sexual harassment, how are you going to avoid that behavior? Right, so which is why these trainings are called sensitization trainings, because we don’t just go and say, Oh, the Act says this is under section two. And this is under section five and stuff like that. We go and in most of my sessions, I go and I spent a good 1520 minutes just connecting and talking to the people about, you know, that we need to talk about it, right. So you have to create an environment where people are comfortable talking about it. And it’s basically not just a training, it’s a it’s a conversation, sort of the room between the employees and the trainer, where you put up your questions if you have any questions because something like sexual harassment, people don’t generally talk about it, especially more Suppose you’re an engineer, why would you go ahead and talk about sexual harassment just out of the blue? Right. But what meanings ensure is that there is a conversation happening around the topic and that people are sensitized about what is sexual harassment in what ways it exhibits because sometimes even females don’t know if they’ve been sexually harassed, it’s so mild, the harassment that they cannot decipher whether, you know, any action is liable on it or not. So, once you’re clear with what is happening in your life, you will be able to you know, a judge better whether or not to proceed with a complaint or not. So, one of the reasons why these sensitization are very important is because you go ahead and you talk and you decode how sexual harassment exhibits itself because there is no definition that you can give to something like that something that might be harassment to me might not be harassment to the person sitting next to me right. So kind of go around talking about it and sensitizing people about it. We don’t go around just saying that Oh, of course Acme You know, this is okay. And this is not okay. And this is fine. And this you have to do and this is what you don’t have to do we go around talking to people about how do you feel about something like this? Do you think that something notice should be acceptable and it will seem generally people their moral compasses, always
Gaurav Tripathi 16:25
so examples like so fun, from a posh perspective, okay? Are the video calls or these remote sessions are also
Kovida Priyum 16:36
going to be covered under it? But that’s absolutely wrong. Everything that you do in regard to your work? If you’re doing it, if you have a place, suppose this and sitting here on work, right, so right now, this is my workplace. Albeit virtual, so virtual workplace is defined under the OSH act and all of these incidents that are happening virtually, or on video calls or whatever is also covered under the
Gaurav Tripathi 17:03
chat room. I have one more follow up question here. So this is again, something which I came across recently where And it so happened that now people are talking that whole day, I’m on the video call when then yeah, back to back calls. And I was on the call. I forgot. I forgot that. You know, I didn’t have my shirt on. Yeah, all I forgot. You know that? No, I wasn’t there as I was just in my, you know, my restaurant and so on. Yeah. Why? Why should you know that we made into a big deal. Yeah, there are female members in the team. But yes, my intent was not that but so what’s your what’s your take on that,
Kovida Priyum 17:50
um, I for which they did get a, you know, report from the judges that you have to maintain your integrity at workplace and dressing up is a part of that integrity. So it does not matter if you are working. Albeit we do understand that you’re at home, there’s a comfort space and stuff like that. But you’re when you’re working, you’re working and everything that you do in regards to your professional career is professional. So any conduct of yours that might offend somebody is to be taken into consideration, and you cannot go around or you know, saying that, oh, why are you creating a scene out of it? If somebody was offended, they will find it. It’s a sad experience, if you don’t feel offended by your best doesn’t mean I don’t have to be offended.
Gaurav Tripathi 18:37
So from an organization’s perspective, I think then, organizations need to know that yes, they this should not be left to left to employees of the team members interpretations. I think this should also be covered now that it’s become the norm. Now, what people call the new normal, I think then it should be covered that you know that there are clear do’s and don’ts so that people don’t assume our natural, you know, if something happens, and so I know. So you spoke about the committee and everything and there is a there is a fairly elaborate procedure on that when quiet and everything and of course, you know, as an organization, I think it’s it’s in the interest of everybody that even these codes are published clearly that see the you have to be cautious of where you are and, and and and your dress up and everything and even your language, you cannot simply assume that. Oh, I didn’t realize the the mic wasn’t rude.
Kovida Priyum 19:36
Absolutely, absolutely. So, what which is why I stress upon having a very elaborate posh policy, because what it does is it ensures that employees have been told firsthand that this kind of conduct is an absolute No, no, we are not going to tolerate it. If you if something like this is done, we will take action on it. Which is why again, coming back to the point that you need to have a very elaborate, very specific Porsche policy. about what kind of conduct you’re okay with, and what kind of conduct is absolutely not tolerated. Again, coming back to the topic, that it has to adhere to the regulations that have been formed in the Porsche. But apart from that, like the Porsche act will not deal with it, they did not envision that we will be in a pandemic working from what, you know, workplaces. So but then again, the interpretation of it like right now, the ice team or the management or anybody can pass a regulation about how much effort you have to put if you say that as a, you know, as an amendment to a posh policy, we are now stating that while you’re at virtual workplace or during your time of work, which is from suppose nine to five, or 10 to six, or what have you, you have to be in proper conduct and the integrity of the workplace has to be ensured, which is not a very difficult step. Right? If you already have a Porsche policy, you add one more clause to it. That’s not a very big thing to do. But yes, again, the duty falls on the employer or the management of the organization, you can not let it be on the employees employees are not. I mean, they have to be cautious about their own professional journeys, but in case they misbehave, or some misconduct is done like turning up in non acceptable attire, who is to blame for that, if you have not defined it, what are you going to do about it, of course, it will be indecent, and you can take action on it under ice. But then again, prevention is better than cure.
Shantanu Saha 21:38
At the end of the day, all this ultimately, the penalties have to be borne by the employer, right. So So COVID are in fact, I mean, having a push policy, and the act helps in terms of you know, that you have an environment which is safe for work as a safe place for females, right. And that’s the main thing, and that is why which will help increase productivity. So that’s like the, you can see the genesis of why we have a policy and an act for it. But if there is a violation, then there is obviously, you know, a penalty. So if you can tell us something about the penalties that could be you know, there, what kind of violations could be there.
Kovida Priyum 22:13
And, of course, the penalties that employers impose, or even the IC team, the recommendations that they give are proportionate to what kind of misbehavior or misconduct you shown, right? So it’s not like if you said something like, oh, you’re looking so hot today to some female, or she might get offended, and, you know, some calling somebody hot is does have a sexual undertone to it. And she might go ahead and lodge a complaint. And he said, Oh, you’re so hard. But are you going to fire an employee just because he by maybe not intentionally, but he did say, oh, you’re looking for credit, right? So of course, you’re in grave instances of sexual harassment, where there might have been physical touching, and the trauma must have been immense for the female who experienced it. Of course, you have to take very heavy measures where you can go ahead and you know, terminate that employee or ask for monetary compensation which you can get from his, you know,
Shantanu Saha 23:16
salaries, and what the government in terms of the OSH act, what kind of penalties so they can delay on the employer for you know, not having, say a watch committee or not following all the guidelines, which are there.
Kovida Priyum 23:27
So, if it comes to the notice of the government nowadays, the government is getting really, really proactive. So they’re sending out chauffeurs notices, and what have you for not having an internal committee or not reporting it wherever it is required. But of course, they can penalize you in monetary terms and it that can be really, really hefty. In terms of what would it take for you to have Porsche compliant organization versus what monetary penalty you’re ultimately paying for not being pushed compliant, that difference can be a huge one. Then again, if you repeat the same offense, if you’re still not posh compliant, they can double it triple it will lead or whatever and then there have been judgments where I think we drive High Court and Delhi High Court have gone ahead and given monetary you know, ask for monetary compensation for the females who were sexually harassed or the females who said that I did not have an internal committee to report to so I had to take the matter to the court and stuff like that they’ve gone on to the tune of 1.6 crore when you know, to say 8.5 lakh rupees to Yes, there are a very, very heavy chances of heavy monitoring, which are also directly report right. That the organization’s if you’re not compliant repetitively, they can also cancel your licenses. They can revoke any, you know, privileges that might have been given to you, they can bar you from doing Business altogether. So that is a I think that is the most heavy penalty that the government can take against you. If you fail to wash compliant repetitively, then they will cancel your licenses.
Shantanu Saha 25:13
And you had mentioned that some states have their own apps where employees can directly report to the government if there is some kind of an issue. So that becomes a counter check. Yeah, yes.
Kovida Priyum 25:24
district level pay, there is a district officer who’s appointed who’s supposed to see what that cost compliance is being done. Of course, it is a new whack. At certain places, the district offices are pretty new, they don’t know what to do with it and stuff like that. But, for example, Noida as an example, is very proactive in their, you know, monitoring of Porsche compliance. So if you don’t have, what they have done is they have an app called shore app, which is sh I, which I think stands for sexual harassment online redressal, I’m not too sure you might as well want to check. But it’s spelled sh o r, where you have to every organization that is functioning from the Noida area has to register the details of their internal committee on the app. And that is how they’re monitoring if you are Porsche compliant or not. And, of course, annual reports and all those. So it depends on what district you’re in. A lot of districts are being especially I think, metropolitan cities or major business hubs, their governments are very, very stringent on, you know, having these complied with. I’m not too familiar with smaller towns and how district officers are doing it. there because, personally, I’ve only been around the major cooperation hubs in the country where this is at least being taken very, very seriously. But it’s an evolving law. Let’s see, let’s I do have hope that eventually every district officer will be very, very strict with the regulation, but it will take time because it’s an evolving law, people are not really that aware about what exactly the act is, and what exactly has to happen
Shantanu Saha 27:09
and Correct, correct. While I go to the next question, I would also ask the audience who have joined us that they have any questions they can, you know, put into the chat? Or if they want, they can even unmute, or you know, come on video, and we can you know, include them in the webinar. Let me move on to the next question. So you had mentioned that there is a certain structure to the internal committee, if you can tell us a little more about a committee structure? What are the names or numbers? How many committees can be there can be multiple committees? What if some organization has multiple locations? Then how do you manage things?
Kovida Priyum 27:43
So under the poor shack, every workplace of yours is supposed to have an internal company of its own, of course, if you have more than 10 employees that that claim, then it’s mandatory to have internal committee there? How many members, four members or minimum where three members will be your organization and one will be the external member? That’s a minimum requirement? Maximum, there’s no prescribed limits, so you can put as many members as you want, but I think three to four members are more than sufficient to go over an inquiry. Um, what is the structure? Like? What is the composition like is that these are senior members from your organization. And of course, as we went to earlier, the expert who comes from outside who’s very well versed with what to do, or a woman causes and stuff like that.
Unknown Speaker 28:38
Kovida Priyum 28:40
that’s about it, that’s about
Shantanu Saha 28:43
people from the same department or it has to be, you know, multiple departments and across the whole country, to they have to have, you know,
Kovida Priyum 28:53
okay, structure wise, some organizations prefer that they have one internal committee at the, you know, workplaces at every office, and then they have a central internal committee to monitor or to regulate all the internal committees, that is all, it’s not prescribed by the act. But that is an kind of initiative that organizations are taking, which is very, it’s good, because the senior most members can sit on that committee, because obviously, if you have a very big organization functioning from, say, 20 cities, now these senior members, they might not be able to travel to all these cities and do everything because it’s a time bound process, right. So you have to complete the inquiry in within a specific time. So if they are not able to travel, yes, they have the resources there. They have internal committee sitting in the city, who can resolve the process, if any problems arise, of course, the senior internal committee or the overlooking internal committee can pitch in, right. And then yeah, that’s about How
Shantanu Saha 30:01
to have a complaint against a member of the committee then what happens?
Kovida Priyum 30:04
So the member has to step down from the committee for that duration, you appoint another member if there is a member lacking from the required number of members. Otherwise, if suppose you have six members in your internal committee and one of them is challenged, he can tell he or she can step down and use team of five members, so they can proceed with the inquiry. But if there is a complaint against the internal committee member they are.
Shantanu Saha 30:29
Okay, okay. So is there some, I mean, that’s the committee’s that even if there is no complaint, or they will only sit when there is a complaint to you know, this way,
Kovida Priyum 30:37
I’m actually that’s not really prescribed by the act as such, there has to be a committee in place, of course, you have to have a committee doesn’t mean the key complaint it, then only you form your committee, you have to have a committee perpetually, right. Now, some organizations prefer that at least once or twice a year, the committee should meet, to go over, you know, policy changes and stuff like that, for consultation purposes, irrespective of whether a complaint has come or not. When a complaint does come, then obviously the committee sits and looks at the procedure.
Shantanu Saha 31:12
But painting, they have to be trained at a certain duration like employees, is there a duration, which is mandated? Or is it like once a year for the employees as well as for the committee members?
Kovida Priyum 31:22
So once a year is, I think, the minimum that you can do because every annually, you have to submit your report and that report, you have to mention if you’ve trained your ICT manual employees, right? So at least once a year, you have to make sure that your committees are being trained. Why this is very important, especially for internal committees is because the law is evolving, right. And so it doesn’t stop evolving. Like recently, the Delhi High Court, I think you had put up this question, and I skipped it. But coming back to that the Delhi High Court said that in public organizations or even private for that matter, it is preferable that in the internal committee, when it’s dealing with an inquiry, the people from the same department do not sit on the internal committee because it could be biased. The inquiry of it, of course, with very large public organizations, that’s possible with very small suppose a startup who doesn’t have more than like, 1520 members? How do they change senior members like that. So in that case, you know, you just have to work with what you have. But then, again, periodic sensitization is very important for IC teams, because as the law is evolving, you have to be updated with what judgments are coming, what rules are coming from the Ministry of women and child development, what practices are happening around incorporation, see, because a very key stakeholder in this entire framework of Porsche is the organization that, you know, setting a Porsche policy, if your policies are very revolutionary, and stuff like that, then you’re kind of leading the way for the law. And you can practice that around you have, you know, kind of inculcate those practices within your organizations also, which is why I always advocate that, you know, organizations are very key stakeholders here. And if they are not proactive with, you know, having good policies having periodic sensitization or not, then the effect of law is kind of diluted.
Shantanu Saha 33:24
And what happens in a typical cautious fashion? I mean, and one more question, I mean, as a member of internal committee, the external member, can they also do training? Absolutely. Even
Kovida Priyum 33:37
the periodical trainings can be done by obviously expert because they will know how to talk to people, and anybody can come and tell you, okay, this is the portion, this is what it says, but for them to decode it, decode how it is relevant in your culture, to understand your culture and appreciate it. A lot of consultations have to be done. So me as a Porsche trainer, I actually sit down with the organization, I asked them, Do you have a policy? I go through their Porsche policy, I then ask them what kind of culture does your organization have are people you know, friendly with each other or people isolated, they work in isolation and stuff like that. So you really have to understand the culture of that organization. Because coming back, it’s a subjective experience, you might have very younger populations with young people who are you know, all over the place and they are jumping around hopping around and talking in you know, what terms they use in normal slang language, but that might not work in suppose a public organization. Because Lumpur structure their structure and transfer so they had people new people join in and stuff like that. So you really have to understand the culture of the organization. linking it to the next question, what happens in a typical posture session is to go ahead and desensitize it. So me personally what I do for session is I invest Some time at the beginning to connect with the audience’s to make them understand why we are doing this. Once they understand, okay, why are they doing this? They become open to it, we have to be comfortable with the conversation we are having? Because it’s not generally very, you know, you don’t find people talking about sexual harassment generally. Right? So one day, if you’re giving it you might as well want people to be comfortable talking about it, if they have any questions, they should be able to voice it. If they’re too scared to talk about it, then the session is ineffective, I feel. So first and foremost, I connect with the audience’s I tell them that this is important, we need to talk about it right, I’m not gonna just come here and you know, tell you a section to set prison section says this, then we take them into the fact we tell them that there is legislation to it, this is your internal capacity. This is your Porsche policy, we tell them that Porsche policy, we tell them about the act, and how it kind of merges with their posh policy. And then we sensitize them, we have open discussions, if anybody has any questions about something that might have happened to them that they didn’t understand if it was sexual harassment or not, they can voice it, they can ask about men, they can, you know, ask about their behaviors. And if that was sexual harassment, can address that question. So basically, sensitization happens, where a lot of it is centered around, you know, people just getting comfortable talking about it. And females, males, for gender neutral organizations, they have to understand that they it’s, it’s not okay to be sexually harassed at workplace, and so empower them and give them a voice to stand up against it, if it is happening. And if it doesn’t stop, even after standing up against it, when they usually feel empowered enough to go and register a complaint because prior to power shack coming into place, I think, most females, even after the power shot coming into place, most females just fear the consequences of taking an action against somebody, especially in senior roles where this power matrix exists. So I think what sanitization really does is it gives you a voice, it gives you clarity about what exactly is sexual harassment, how to word it, again, coming back to the topic, that it’s a subjective experience. Now, suppose I said, Oh, you’re looking very hard today, and somebody got offended. Obviously, you cannot fire somebody about it, right. But when you register a complaint, that person will be reminded that it’s not okay to say this to just anybody, maybe somebody who welcoming of it can be, you don’t have to worry about it, but somebody who does not welcome it, certainly, you know, can go file a complaint, so he will monitor his own conduct better next time. So that’s what we do in the sensitization as well, we tell them that, you know, these kinds of behaviors might be objectionable to a certain class of females or males, or anybody, and you might as well avoid it, if you’ve done it, Please apologize. I’m sorry, you muted Shannon.
Shantanu Saha 38:11
Sorry, can you come across? Do you come across cases where you know, you have vengeful complaints that come across with a motor? And how do you you know, identify those complaints, because when you have such a over encompassing Act, the tendency to misuse would also be their
Kovida Priyum 38:27
absolute I hammer, how these rights are a double edged sword, they can be used both way they can be used for protection, as well as satisfying the vindictiveness of a woman. Absolutely, it can be, and not a lot of but yeah, some complaints do crop up, which are acts of just vindictive behavior. Um, I think it’s the cases that we are dealing with the inquiries that are happening are all circumstantial. So it’s not like somebody wrote it on paper, but, you know, something like, come meet me there. Right? It doesn’t happen like that somebody said it. And that’s how the reaction came and stuff like that. So it’s all circumstantial evidence is that we are dealing with, um, it’s very evident. Also, let’s understand that in certain cases, it’s not proved. But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened, right. It might have happened, but you couldn’t prove it. So in those cases, what do you do about it? So in a lot of cases, you really can’t say anything about it. But if you feel that something like this might have occurred, you at least can take corrective measures for it in the sense that you can, you know, tell the person that certain conduct of yours was not appreciated. We would appreciate if you kind of work on your conduct and, you know, refrain from it later. I’m coming to false accusations that happen. Yes, they do. happen. amount of time. And this is also a part of the sensitization training where we go to females and we tell them that Listen, if you’re taking a law in your hand and abusing it, you will bear the consequences and the actual prescribed consequences that the consequences that might have been implicated on the person who was accused, will in turn, go to the IRS, the complainant of the whole inquiry. So yes. How do you assert is it it’s all circumstantial, we look at the evidences, we look at what people are saying, and if there is witnesses or anything. So yeah, there is a whole process of taking evidences and sitting on them deciding if a matter how much weightage to give to what evidence, and one of the part of the ice training is, a very substantial chunk of it is about how do you weigh and evidence? And what kind of evidence is to take in cases that pertain to sexual harassment? Because these are circumstantial things happening? And often, you don’t have evidences, so how do you adjudicate on it? I think that is one of the main areas that I focus on, in case you don’t have an evidence, what do you do with a complaint? You cannot let somebody go right? What if it had happened? So I think one good measure is to kind of at least talk to both the parties about it, what had happened and stuff like that, even if it is not proved, you might as well, you know, warn them that if this kind of conduct is being exhibited, we do not appreciate it, and that in itself will be a warning enough for the perpetrator to refrain from,
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