Earlier in March, Lawcubator had the opportunity to conduct a special session to give industry experts a platform for discussing and promoting ‘PoSH Implementation.’
During this HR Meet-UP, the Legal Head of Medi Assist Ms. Megha Mattoo, and Ms. Sumalatha, the Human Resource Manager of Medi Assist, shared with us their journey in implementing PoSH and ensuring a safe workplace with a team of more than 6000 employees.
“At Medi Assist, we have an open office culture, and creating a safe workplace has been our top most priority for the past ten years. Even before the PoSH Act came into picture, we had a redressal mechanism in place. We also used to conduct mandatory trainings for employees on prevention of sexual harassment”, says Ms. Sumalatha.
The Business Risk
Remarking upon the nature of their work, Ms. Mattoo ventures on to say that they have their doctors and nurses working from client locations, whose job is to conduct health check-ups for employees when necessary for that corporate. According to her, with doctors examining all these patients, it’s a very thin line. Logically, it becomes a business risk if your employees are not behaving in a right way when they are put up in a client location.
The initial years
Switching gears, she takes us back to when it all started at Medi Assist. The first year, she says, was simply about fulfilling the compliance of having a committee in place, giving adequate training to the members of the Committee, etc. Gradually, it was realised that not everyone in the rest of the workplace was understanding the issues at par. Hence, they started doing more and more training, focusing more on classroom training.
Prevention of sexual harassment training
Going further into the details of the training mechanism, Ms. Sumalatha elaborates that they focus on assessment based training for all employees. They segregate the employees as per their age and work experience. For medical employees there is a separate training, for call centre employees there is a separate training and likewise. Even after taking up the POSHsecure platform for online training, they conducted 4-5 classroom trainings in a month for different groups. The focus was on giving n number of examples to create a better understanding of what is sexual harassment and its redressal mechanism.
Further, she continues that they also give refresher courses to the Internal Committee members every year as they may lose touch. The Internal Committee also conducts mandatory meetings quarterly. Here, Ms. Megha adds that apart from common measures such as PoSH posters, they have PoSH screensavers on the employees’ computers that change every month. Screensavers were something that really helped reinforce the idea in their minds.
Beginning of Change
Referring to the steps taken by them, Ms. Mattoo says it slowly became a pitch for all the leaders, that they dogwatched it. It brings a change when employees hear leaders say that we have zero tolerance for PoSH, and that you have to take the training or that there is certain behaviour expected of you.
‘The focus should be on empowering women’
Coming to the crux of the issue, Ms. Mattoo admits that for the first two years after they started doing prevention of sexual harassment training, not a lot of cases were coming in. “Soon I realised,” Ms. Megha observes, “that, if we are doing so much for awareness and we have about 6000 people, we should have more complaints. We questioned, why is it that people are not coming out?”
This is when they changed the focus to empowering women to come out and talk, to say no. And that changed everything!
By informing the women of the measures to be taken if they found themselves in situations where a co-worker was making them feel uncomfortable, they empowered the women to take action themselves. No longer did their women employees feel helpless; rather, with the knowledge of the law and the confidence bestowed upon them, they had the attitude that said “we will deal with this situation ourselves, with our held high.”
“And that’s how we know things are changing
and that they are not scared anymore”, she adds. Women have historically been too suppressed and scared to ever speak up and thus empowering women and teaching them that they have a right to say “no” and the right to complain, is the biggest challenge.
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