3rd Pulse Survey Results on Relevance of POSH Act and Policy in the New Normal

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– Conducted by Marching Sheep, an HR Advisory Firm

With the onset of Covid-19, everyone is compelled to acknowledge that we cannot continue the way things were done before. As a part of the business community, society and the larger ecosystem, the need to learn to adapt to the new normal has become a necessity. In our 1st pulse survey, we found out the key competencies to survive the current pandemic. In our 2nd pulse survey, we focused on the priorities and policies which HR functions should concentrate on to help organizations as well as employees navigate through the current crisis as we gradually exit the lockdown.

A continued effort to contribute & support the business recovery during these challenging times, we conducted our third pulse survey. In this survey we went a step further and focused on a specific aspect of policies within organizations i.e. the relevance of POSH Act and Policy in the new normal considering the emerging current realities that have surfaced.

From our 3rd pulse survey here are the top priorities for Organizations to look at while evaluating the relevance of POSH Act and Policy while redesigning & reshaping their work culture and employee behavior.

  1. Focus on Modifying Organization’s POSH Policy to meet the needs of remote/ virtual working: As workforce continues to adapt to the changing needs of their work environment and undergo dramatic shift in workplace dynamics, Organization’s should constantly relook and refresh their frameworks, practices, processes and policies for workplace safety. Thus, an important aspect to workplace safety is POSH policy should be modified to meet the needs of remote/ virtual working. During Work from Home the need for POSH trainings has become a pressing requirement as per the data indicated in our survey.
  1. Redressal of domestic violence in the wake of remote working should be added to the POSH Act and Policy: Emerging dimensions of workplace conduct and safety are equally important. This period of lockdown has led to a staggering increase in domestic violence cases in India and globally. With social distancing in place several people are unable to contact or seek help from their regular support system. Taking this into account Twitter India has also launched search prompts to help Domestic Violence survivors – “SheThePeople.” Thus, with merging of workplace and personal space there is a need to keep safety of employees under check. POSH is clear that workplace covers both organized and unorganized sectors and includes any work related offsite, get-togethers, any place that comes under the ambit of work related relationship. Therefore, the need to safeguard the physical & mental safety of an employee within the new normal with a shift in work space, work safety must continue to be a top priority for companies as per data revealed from our survey.
  1. Focus on LGBTQ related harassment should also be added to the POSH Policy in companies: While some companies have made the POSH policy gender-neutral, a need for POSH Act to be made into a gender-neutral act by law has also emerged. This indicates the need for LGBTQ related harassment to be taken into consideration while reviewing the POSH Policy in our companies to ensure work safety is not a privilege limited to a few within the workforce.
  1. Cyber bullying or harassment on virtual platform should be added in the current POSH Policies or Act: Need for HR Leaders to review complex scenarios under POSH Act has become a pressing needWe are connected virtually for long hours when it comes to work life as lines between professional and personal space have blurred. Emerging challenges have also surfaced with virtual connectivity becoming a part of our everyday work that needs to be addressed. As per Gartner by 2030, demand for remote working will increase by 30% with “Gen Z” entering the workplace. Cyber bullying or harassment on virtual platforms is a pressing concern that should be addressed in POSH policy.

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  1. Need for Code of conduct guidelines and Sensitization of managers on “not camera ready” behavior: Major portion of our work force continues to work from home, they operate in this workplace while interacting with colleagues and work teams. Therefore, a certain level of sensitization of managers and other employees on “not camera ready” behavior, code of conduct and dress code for video conferences, virtual or video conference guidelines are required to be clearly stated and put in place to ensure expected level professional conduct amongst employees should be maintained.
  1. POSH Training is required during Work from Home: It is critical for companies to conduct training and awareness sessions for employees across vertical within the Organisation, this should include the leadership, managers, employees, newly recruited staff and interns who are now getting on-boarded virtually, as the need to be sensitized to expected standards of professional behavior, redressal mechanism and clear implications of false and malicious complaints need to be taken into consideration with assurance of swift action. Popular method for facilitating trainings sessions or activities across industries on POSH Policy and Act were Face to Face. However, with social distancing and virtual platforms the effort to continue the need to sensitize employees across multiple locations should not be undermined. Utilization of virtual platforms have become an excellent mode of communication & learning with online training & webinars to support & address training needs of employees in organization.

Sonica Aron
Founder and Managing Partner, Marching Sheep

Survey Results

Sonica Aron is the Founder and Managing Partner of Marching Sheep, an HR advisory firm specializing in Strategic HR advisory, Diversity and inclusion interventions and capability building.

An XLRI post graduate, Sonica has worked with companies like Pepsico, Vodafone, Roche Diagnostics and ICI paints. She started her career with a sound understanding of business where she went route-riding with Pepsico and was part of the team that launched Pepsi 200 ml at Rs 5. She was the first lady HR Manager stationed at a factory in Upcountry UP and there the seeds to her diversity practice were born.

Sonica is passionate about HR, empowering people and all things in between. A mother of two, she decided to set up Marching Sheep in 2013 with a vision of delivering interventions that truly move the needle. As a Human Resource and D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) specialist with an experience of 18 years, both in the industry and consulting, she has designed one of the most evolved ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ frameworks in India with exclusive programs like – Women@Work, Unleash and Diversity@Work! Marching Sheep works with clients across industries on gender, generational and sexual orientation diversity.

In the past 5 years or so, Marching Sheep has gone from strength to strength under the leadership of Sonica. It boasts of a healthy roster of clients, including Reckitt Benckiser, SBI cards, Sterlite Power, JCB India, Continental Tyres, Diageo, Baxalta, Oetiker to name a few.

Seen as a thought leader, her opinions on motherhood penalty, unpaid work, generational diversity, inclusion of the LGBT community have been published by leading publications including Hindu, TOI, HT, Business World, The Statesman, DNA and the Tribune.

Prior to starting Marching Sheep, Sonica was Head of HR for the consumer lifestyle business at Philips.

Sonica is a passionate advocator of diversity. Having been a woman professional, Sonica has both experienced and observed gender based bias closely. Every woman in the workspace experiences this at some time or the other. This prompted her to launch her diversity practice. ‘Organizations need to move ahead of the curve and drive inclusive teams and mindsets, gender sensitive processes and mentor and coach women’, she believes and advocates. She works on board of ‘Gender at Work India Trust’ actively delivering to the society. Sonica loves her little patch of the garden and is an avid reader.

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