When work is worship, workplace should be the most serene place where one feels confident, safe and comfortable. But not all workplaces are. At many places, the employees are often harassed and threatened; it’s not rare to hear about sexual harassment in corporate companies and offices. The Prevention of Sexual Harassment Act, 2013 (POSH Act) has been effective in bringing down harassment cases to a great extent, so is the role of Rainmaker.
Since Antony Alex set up his initiative in 2016, he has been assisting the corporates in creating an ethical workplace for employees. Their flagship programme WorkSafe helps assist the corporates to fulfil POSH act. “We aim for an ethical workplace for women which’s against corruption and abide by the best corporate governance practices,” stresses Antony, the CEO and a lawyer who has worked with leading brands like ICICI and Kochhar & Co. Antony was also in the founding team of Pangea3, the world’s largest and most successful Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO). He ventured into Rainmaker due to his passion for training. Through online modules and workshops, they offer proper training to the entire workforce, management and members of the Internal Committee (IC), setup under the POSH Act, comprising employees of the company. The training is interestingly imparted through short films and design workshops.
“A lot of online training content available in the country were very boring like the Power Point presentations, animation videos, etc. People love to see movies and hear stories. So, we wanted to create an organisation which actually gives entertaining training through short films and stories, and at the same time creating awareness in the process. Our unique training module covers law and compliance, which connects to my background as a lawyer as well. The aim is to make everyone aware that a law exists and whoever misbehaves will be punished,” he says.
Antony says that it is very important for the people to differentiate between right and wrong in a workspace. “Sexual harassment is a sensitive subject. It is very important to train everybody and create awareness on what they shouldn’t do in a workspace. Other areas we focus on are anti-corruption and corporate governance. As a country, we need to get better in these areas too.”
WorkSafe also creates awareness among men and women as there is a general misinterpretation about the law that it is only for women. If a woman is sexually harassed, she has the provision to complaint. Likewise, if a man sends work-unrelated messages to a colleague continuously after 11 pm, then he too will be in trouble. The idea is to make people aware on how to behave right. There are certain lines one shouldn’t cross at a workspace. If understood in the right way, workspace will be so good and productive for men and women.”
Antony affirms that they have a good number of clients and they frequently get calls from women reporting sexual harassment by their superiors. “Many have an idea about neither the law nor what to do in such situations. They might be on the verge of quitting the organisation, but after watching our online videos and attending the workshops, many got empowered enough to file a complaint against the offenders,” he adds. Their training has now reached out to around seven lakh employees and has their presence in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, etc.
The government has been very supportive of their venture. A lot of companies had showed no enthusiasm to comply with the law when it was passed, but now they take it very seriously. “Social media has become a strong presence now. Earlier, all large companies and MNCs used to comply with the law. Nowadays, we get a lot of calls from midsize and small companies too. After all, no company would like to lose its reputation. So every firm, be it be large or small, has fallen in line of the law,” he says.
Though the law is strong, there are still many who hesitate to open up about sexual harassment or other problems. “There are two reasons for that. One is that before many weren’t aware about the law or what protection does the law offer for them. But as time passes, through workshops and other activities, the employees are well aware of the law and its consequences. In tier-2 cities or towns, there is a fear among women that if they complaint against someone, when their families will come to know about it, their financial independence would come to a halt. Another fear is retaliation. Women fear that they may be thrown out of job in some ghastly way. Even if they don’t lose the job, they will be made to suffer in their workspace. This is the reason why women are still uncomfortable in many of the organisations.”
However, he feels that POSH is a success. “Many cases of sexual harassment have been reported from many firms. People have garnered the courage to speak up. These laws can create awareness such that such nasty incidents can be avoided. Many are feeling empowered,” Antony signs off....