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Sexual Harassment in India: US firms should act NOW

by Brandi Moore on December 10, 2010

I was interviewed by Human Resource Executive Online a few weeks back on the new survey released by the Centre for Transforming India on sexual harassment in the IT/BPO workplace.  They finalized and posted the story this afternoon here: http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=533326943

The results of the survey are eye opening to what is occurring inside India’s IT sector through the eyes of women:

  • 88% of the 600 women surveyed at different levels reported experiencing sexual harassment.
  • 91% reported they failed to report the problem because of fear.
  • 72% of incidents reported were carried out by superiors harassing subordinates.
  • 47% indicated there was no clear path on how to report the incident to superiors.
  • 82% of the incidents reported occurred outside of the office.

This information needs to be known by HR managers in the US who are charged with leading a global brand for their firms.  Unfortunately, the human resource skills in India compared with the US create a situation for US to lead India through complexities they have not yet encountered like sexual harassment.  American HR managers will have to lead the way because they have the experience in understanding how to bring this complex topic to the forefront in masculine societies like the US.  India is also masculine but is traveling through the same transition the US went through over a 40 year period in lightening speed.  The bottom line?  US firms need all the talent they can access in India making inclusion of women into a safe workplace environment a bottom line initiative.

The situation reported in India is important to understand for many reasons:

  1. HR leaders need to know that US sexual harassment programs will not be effective in India.  Changes are required.
  2. HR leaders need to know that the hierarchy in India causes great difficulty for employees to report transgressions.
  3. HR leaders can create a strong brand in India by leading the way with an effective HR policies around sexual harassment that build trust for women employed by the organization.
  4. HR managers need to think Mad Men when starting an India based sexual harassment policy.

I have written an indepth white paper on this topic which you can download here.  The white paper explains the problem in detail and offers suggested solutions to the HR manager who is new to India and not sure how to adapt the existing US program to India’s needs.

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