As women's safety continues to be deliberated upon at different levels, an academic programme aims to help in better implementation of the law in the workplace.
Although The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 mandates several stipulations to safeguard women at their workplaces, the implementation has been far from satisfactory. In order to remedy this, the West Bengal National University of Judicial Sciences (WBNUJS) will start an executive programme in sexual harassment prevention and workplace diversity.
The three month course is aimed at domain experts like human resource managers, corporate trainers and women’s right activists with at least two years of experience. As per an International Labour Organisation study, 90 per cent of Indian businesses have not been able to comply completely with the Act. “A rough estimate suggests that more than two million workplaces (employing 10 or more employees) need to implement the law,” says P Ishwara Bhat, vice chancellor, WBNUJS. Ramanuj Mukherjee, cofounder, iPleaders, an online platform helping WBNUJS set up this course agrees. “Even organisations who want to implement the law to the letter do not have the proper idea, knowledge or capacity to do it,” he says.
This course comprises live classes as well as pre-recorded material from industry and legal experts who are already helping the government and private sector to develop best practices around sexual harassment prevention. A number of topics including organisational context of sexual harassment, how compliance has changed since scrapping of Vishaka Guidelines, how to conduct sexual harassment and diversity audits and constitute a internal complaints committee will be covered as part of the course. E-invigilation, a process wherein all activities on the screen of the examination taker is recorded to prevent use of unfair methods will be used for evaluating candidates. “Open book examinations will be conducted in order to test understanding of concepts rather than retaining of information,” adds Bhat.
Since there are no specific textbooks to study prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, industry experts and university faculty members have collaborated to create a healthy mixture of relevant content. “No HR professional from a top company will take a course which focuses only on theories and classroom content. It needs to be dynamic and robust,” says Mukherjee. So how will this course help professionals? “It helps candidates secure promotions and new roles in organisations and also makes them more qualified to become a workplace diversity consultant or external experts for various companies,” signs off Bhat.