Two-thirds of companies on the Nifty, a 50-stock benchmark index of the NSE, reported cases of sexual harassment in the previous financial year, according to a study by the ET Intelligence Group. An examination of the annual reports of 46 Nifty companies showed a total of 415 cases, with 80% of these in information technology (IT) and banking firms.
Wipro heads the list with 100 cases, followed by ICICI Bank with 94. In the manufacturing sector, where women are less well represented, Tata Steel leads with 24 cases, followed by Cipla with 17. Among state-run companies, State Bank of India leads with 14 cases.
The disclosure is in compliance with the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which superseded the Vishakha guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997. The financial year ended March 2015 was the first full year of reporting after the Act came into force, so a comparison with previous data isn’t possible.
Wipro staff are encouraged to enroll in the company’s online training module on prevention of sexual harassment.
“Organisations with a high number of cases probably have supportive and progressive grievance redressal forums and enhanced enforcement mechanisms, which encourage their employees to report instances of sexual harassment without fear of victimisation,”
“The tragedy is that unlike global companies, sexual harassment is not a board agenda in India,”
While it is encouraging that the companies are reporting the cases of sexual harassment, it is more of paper compliance unless it is also revealed what action was taken to resolve these cases and whether any workshops were held on gender equality.