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49% organisations have anti-sexual harassment cells in Delhi-NCR: Assocham
In the aftermath of horrific Nirbhaya case in the national capital, there has been unprecedented corporate India setting up institutional mechanism in place to deal with the cases of sexual harassment at work places as per the Vishakha guidelines, reveals a latest study by industry body Assocham.
The study undertaken by the Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF) has found that, with regard to grievance redressal mechanism within the organization, nearly 49% of Delhi-NCR private organizations have sexual harassment cell against women, reveals the Assocham survey.

After the Supreme Court guidelines, many companies like BPO, ITeS, Tourism, telecom, research/KPO, media, management, FMCG, Infrastructure have set up such type of committees. Mumbai (38%), Kolkata (42%), 46% in Bangalore etc. have grievance redressal mechanism.

The study also mentioned some companies in Delhi-NCR corporates have responded positively to government advice to increase their overall budget by 25% in the last one year for safety and security especially of women in the sectors such as BPO, IT/ITes sector, financial and other services, real estate, hospitality, tourism, FMCG and infrastructure, media & advertising, manufacturing and textiles etc.

Nearly 40% of the companies have conducted regular workshops for employees especially women employees to communicate and understand the prevalent situation, problems arising thereto and measures taken to improve thereupon, adds the study.

Assocham has a-year-back launched an initiative to encourage more and more corporates to ensure security and dignity of women at work places, put in place the institutional mechanism as per the Vishakha guidelines and allocate increasingly higher budgets for the purpose.

A large proportion of the respondents (42%) in Delhi-NCR are satisfied with the security arrangements made within and outside workplace. On the other hand, 35% in Mumbai, 38% Chennai, 41% Kolkata are stratified with the security arrangements.

Nearly, 51% of the respondents have opined for even better arrangements in light of the criminal incidents in recent past, especially the security within the cabs made available to them. Respondents in Karnataka, Ahemdabad have stressed on the need to tighten the security within the organization and out-house arrangements with responsible drivers and more security staff being deployed.

Over 37% of respondents in Delhi-NCR reported as having a “good” work environment as against 35% in Mumbai. 43% and 56% in Bangalore and Kolkata are somewhat satisfied with the work culture and environment at workplace management policies should be strengthened to encourage women employees and their overall performance at work, adds the Assocham recent paper.

The survey highlights that majority of respondents in Delhi-NCR travel more than 30 kms of which 36% travel more than 15 kms every day. Since only 35% get cab facility, there is an urgency to develop this system in Delhi-NCR to help the employees not only to reduce the time required to travel but also for their safe and secure journey.

On the other hand, only 40% travel more than 5 kms of which 11% have to travel more than 15 kms in Bangalore. Some respondents have observed that either evening or night shifts should be banned for women or else suitable arrangements must be made immediately.

The key findings of the study conducted on the 3,500 women employees from 15 broad sectors like BPO, ITeS, engineering, telecom, research/KPO, media, management, FMCG, Infrastructure, food & beverages, advertising, manufacturing, textiles, construction, real estate, logistics etc. of women workforce over a period of one year in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Karnataka, Bangalore, Ahemdabad, Chandigarh, Dehradun and Kolkata.

Assocham's Secretary General DS Rawat said, “A sexual harassment complaints committee must be separately set to deal with cases of sexual harassment. As per the Supreme Court ruling, it is necessary and expedient for employers as well as other responsible persons and institutions to observe certain guidelines to ensure prevention of sexual harassment of women. The guidelines suggest creation of a complaint mechanism for redressing complaints."

He added, "The complaints committee should be headed by a woman and half of its members should be women. To prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such a Committee should involve a third party, either an NGO or anybody who is familiar with the issues of sexual harassment”.

Areas of Concern:

In view of the above findings, several policy related issues come to the fore especially with regard to women:

Ø  Safety Budgets

Ø  Security Arrangements

Ø  Redressal Mechanisms- Grievances and Sexual Harassment Cell

Ø  Service Benefits & Maternity

Ø  Availability of Suitable Work Facilities

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