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Sexual harassment data begins to come out of corporate closets

Monday, August 07, 2017

Falling in line after repeated diktats from the government and regulators, most of the top listed companies have begun making public some basic data of sexual harassment at workplace and the disclosed numbers show a disturbing uptick.

At the same time, most of these companies assert that a large number of such complaints were effectively resolved, including through 'conciliation' or with 'required disciplinary action', and the pendency was very low to nil at the end of last fiscal.

Under the regulations framed by Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India), all listed companies need to disclose the total number of complaints relating to sexual harassment and the pendency data at the end of a financial year in their annual reports.

Besides, the Ministry of Women and Child Development also requires the companies to give details about such cases under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

The Ministry recently also launched an online portal to enable women employees of the central government to file complaints relating to sexual harassment at workplace while the Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said its ambit would be widened going forward to include the private sector as well.

While the proposed measure is expected to further improve the reporting of such cases, the disclosures made in the annual reports by the top listed blue-chips in India, forming part of the benchmark stock market index Sensex, show that the number of reported complaints rose at most companies.

The number of reported complaints are mostly higher at IT companies, as compared to the firms from other sectors.

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