What Is Harassment? Here’s How Sexual Harassment Happens In Corporate India

What is harassment? Sexual harassment in the workplace is not just about physical contact; suggestive words and bullying are harassment too.

What is harassment? Many are unaware that sexual harassment in the workplace is not just about physical contact; suggestive words and bullying are harassment too.

The recent TVF controversy has once again bought to forefront the fact that sexual harassment is a part of the new corporate India and working women must learn to deal with it. In the above-mentioned case, the harassment has been quite explicit, but there are times when it takes other forms as well.

Unfortunately, except for a few companies, most still do not have clear-cut definitions for employees as to what constitutes harassment. In fact, some companies do not even have clear policies and guidelines to ensure that women employees do not have to suffer in silence.

In my opinion, anything which makes a woman employee uncomfortable is harassment. If within a team, a crude joke or suggestive remark is not welcome to the female members, then it becomes sexual harassment. There are cases of bullying where the female members are intimidated by crass remarks and made to feel inferior, their contributions and achievements belittled.

Gender equality will not become a part of our work environment unless it is taken seriously and drilled down right from the top management. Having women in the team or as a part of management committee only to meet the numbers that are set as guidelines will not bring about the change that is needed.

What is harassment? Here you go!

Below is a list of behaviour that needs to be addressed and curbed. They should become a part of the guidelines and handbook which states what constitutes harassment.

  • Commenting on a female co-worker’s dress or her make up.
  • Sending or sharing double meaning jokes when a woman team member is present without her permission.
  • Making fun of the female co-worker in front of her juniors to show her down or to disparage her leaderships skills.
  • Spreading vicious rumours about a woman employee with deliberate intent to malign her reputation.

There is also a form of harassment which is usually the result of envy. If a woman team member has received a promotion or increment which is more than that of her other teammates, her ability is immediately questioned. Her capabilities are sneered at and she must work much more than the male counterparts to constantly prove herself.

Yes, it is true that our workplaces are much better than they were a few decades back. It is also true that even with such adverse situations many women leaders have climbed the corporate ladder and made it to the top. Hence, the picture is not as bleak. But for it to be ideal, there needs to be a complete attitude change among the men of our country. They need to learn to respect women they work with. They need to understand their space and treat them like the professionals they are.

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Let’s teach our boys so that the next generation men in corporate world do not underestimate the woman they work with. Let’s teach our boys so that they are better co-workers, bosses and juniors. Let’s teach our boys to be better human beings.

Top image via Pexels

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