Sexual harassment at work the iarani way of dealing with it

Every organization has its own way of keeping sexual harassment at bay. In this article we present a few examples of things companies do to create a safe workplace for employees. We also talk about measures that we have taken at iarani to prevent sexual misconduct.

Like most new age start-ups, iarani too is a young organisation that mostly employs twenty-somethings, right out of school, and raring to kickstart their adult lives. At this point, most of these talented youngsters yearn to achieve not just their career goals but also personal ones. To them, the pursuit of professional excellence is just as important as is the hunt for the perfect life partner. We believe that this is alright! After all, if not at this age then when would one dream of having it all? At iarani, we understand the sentiment, and perhaps this is why we are okay with the fact that Tinder is unabashedly accessed just as often as Zomato and Amazon within the walls of our office. While this may make us appear like a bunch of hippies who work and play at their own free will and do not take sexual harassment seriously, in reality, it is quite the opposite.

We realise that there is a fine line that separates an open, uninhibited work environment from one where employees feel unsafe because they find themselves highly vulnerable to sexual harassment. Our easy-going attitude should, by no means, be misconstrued as a lack of concern towards something as serious as sexual misconduct. Here, we value employee development just as much as we value profits and, therefore, we also recognise the threat of sexual harassment and go all out to protect our employees from facing personal damages.

Each organisation has its way of dealing with the spectre of sexual harassment. In the past few years, many researchers and start-ups have begun focusing on creating products that protect individuals from physical assault, allow them to report misdemeanours to the right authorities, and provide a platform and a well-defined process to employers to access such complaints and act on them. Some examples of these are:

  1. Wearable Devices To Avoid Physical Harassment – Developed by Manisha Mohan, a researcher at MIT, Intrepid is an innovative piece of technology that can pre-empt an assault and send warning alerts to passersby as well as to a set of people who are stored as emergency contacts. It is an easy-to-use device that can be stuck on to any piece of clothing, and it also connects to an app on your smartphone through Bluetooth.
  2. Web Forms For Reporting Incidents Discretely – Online forms of this kind iArani.com/Metoo encourage people to come out and talk about their experiences. They enable employees to report and bring to task the perpetrators so that the workplace becomes a safer place for everyone.
  3. Chat-Bots To Help Employees Understand What Sexual Harassment Is – The main aim of chat-bots offered by Botler.ai and EmpowerWork is to help those who have experienced some form of sexual harassment but are too embarrassed to talk to a counsellor about it. Botler helps people figure out if they have been a victim of sexual harassment by using natural language processing technology on thousands of legitimate court cases and deciding if there is sufficient cause for legal proceedings.
  4. AI Algorithms To Spot Inappropriate Online Communications – A large number of sexual misconducts happen online, on email and internal messengers.  Such incidents are much more difficult to catch, and, therefore, perpetrators often go scot-free. Well thought out AI algorithms that continually monitor such platform, identify offensive messages and trigger alerts can deter miscreants to a large extent.

At iarani, our strategy is simple – we look out for each other not just within the office but also, as far as possible, outside it as well. We believe that no one should feel threatened at the workplace or anywhere else for that matter. To battle the monster if it shows up at work, we have put together a robust Sexual Harassment Policy that helps ensure that development is not hampered and that personal damages are contained. The main features of this policy are as follows:

  1. Provision of an online form that acts as a secure platform for employees to report sexual harassment cases without attracting unwanted attention.
  2. Creation of an Anti-Sexual Harassment Cell or ASH that includes a senior female employee, two regular iarani employees, and a member from a relevant NGO
  3. Complete confidentiality.
  4. A clear description of the disciplinary actions that can be taken if the charges are proven or if it is found that the accusation is fabricated and/or is made with malicious intent.

Our intolerance towards perpetrators of sexual harassment is very high, and so, we try our level best to help our employees deal with any such injustice even outside the office space. To be honest, this is a tough task and we are still figuring out how to do it without encroaching upon anyone’s personal space and privacy. The ultimate goal is to reach a state of utopia in which no one has to wage a lone battle ever again. To all those looking to achieve this perfect state, our request is this –  collaborate with us so that together we can create a plan to bring us one step closer to a safer world where perpetrators of sexual abuse fear retribution from all quarters, where neither men nor women feel threatened at work, and where employers feel responsible for their employees’ welfare not just at the work place but also outside it.