HR’s Dilemma on Sexual Harassment Incidents

HR’s Dilemma on Sexual Harassment Incidents

A prospective client approached us with the below scenario in her organization faced by her employees in the retail outlets across India:

“There are sudden unexpected resignations happening in my organization and especially women folks.  On the last day of exit, they speak up after much probing and confess to the actual reason as being sexually harassed by colleagues or managers and hence would like to move out of the organization. Women in my organization are not willing to raise the complaint. We have done enough awareness sessions, our Internal complaints committee (ICC) is well trained and we are still clueless as to why women are hesitant. The Attrition of employees, safety of women and reputation of the organization are at stake. What do we do?“

We probed them further on the below lines and other areas to introspect on:

–          How approachable is your HR or ICC committee to raise complaints?

–          How equipped are your managers who closely work with your employees? Are they mature enough to handle the complaints or to look out for and prevent such incidents?

–          What is the organization culture?  Do the senior employees set a good example.

–          Is the complaints email id easy to recall, eg: Infosys has their email id as, Wipro has theirs as which are at the top of their minds and can be recalled at anytime.

–          Are employees aware of the complaint process flow or closure timeline.  Does ICC adhere to this process and to the timelines?

–          Any instances of confidentiality violation or Retaliation? Surveys show that the major cause for not raising a complaint, is the fear of retaliation or losing their job.

–          How strong and unbiased is your ICC’s 3rd party/external member?

–          Is the whole process transparent?

We strongly recommended that a quick 5 min survey, to be conducted organization wide or with specific target audience. This survey will help ascertain the employees awareness, their understanding of sexual harassment, redressal process, reasons that may deter the employees from raising a compliant. This survey can be done by an expert 3rd party in order to retain the confidentiality of the individual.

Also from our past experience we have realised that focussed awareness sessions/workshops to women only groups of 15 to 20 folks, has helped in the past. This helps the women to open up and share the experiences faced by them or their friends in the past and how they had handled it. They even come out with innovative tips to equip themselves with.

If you have a better solution or suggestion, or similar problems faced in your organization, do write to us at