GCCI IR HR Committee’s seminar on ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace’ receives excellent response from industry, financial and educational institutions

The IR & HR Committee of GCCI organised a half-day Seminar “Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace” on 6th February at GCCI. The faculty was advocate & Chevening Scholar, Vaishali Bhagwat heading the law firm ‘V P Shintre & Associates at Pune.

The Director General of the Chamber, Mr R S Kamat welcomed Adv Bhagwat with a bouquet of flowers .The Chairman of the GCCI IR & HR Committee & Sr GM Dempo Group, Mr B T Boke introduced the faculty. Explaining the committee’s rationale behind organising this seminar, he said that the Central Government, with a view to providing protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace has enacted the “Sexual Harassment at Workplace, (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. The non-compliance by employers may result in penalty, revocation or even non-renewal of licenses to carry out business. Noting the importance of implementing this by the industry in Goa, the IRHR Committee of GCCI organised this seminar.

Adv Bhagwat said that this act which is a specialised legislation unique to India was a result of the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court commonly known as the Vishakha guidelines. This act she said, was meant to protect women at the workplace . The guiding principle of this act is a woman’s discomfort towards violation of her sexual privacy.

The enactment of the act has empowered the woman to demand a safe and secure workplace environment from the employer. Primarily she said that the society has to be sensitised towards gender bias and move towards both sexes being mutually compatible as opposed to being equal. It is important that a woman realises that she has the right to voice her discomfort and a man needs to understand that something that prima facie may be or appear to be inconsequential to him may be taken by the woman as sexual intent.

Adv Bhagwat who holds a degree in Computer Science & Law and specializes in general commercial matters with a special emphasis on IT, e-commerce, Law and Cyber crimes advised all the companies to have a code of conduct in place and organise “diversity sessions” to sensitise employees towards cultures different from their own within their organisation as well as outside and to follow a work ethos as devised by the company. Adv Bhagwat explained the purpose and overview of the Act, manner in which the inquiry is to be conducted and recourse in case of false & malicious complaints.

Adv Bhagwat is on the Internal Complaints Committee for prevention of sexual harassment at Cummins India, Ador Powerton and Sandvik Asia. She is a member of the Board of Studies of Symbiosis Centre for Distance learning as an expert and is a visiting faculty at ILS Law College, Symbiosis Law College & Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.

The seminar was well attended by over 100 professionals across various functions in the corporates, banks, educational institutions, trades, manufacturing industry, commercial organisations, service industry including hotels, spas etc.

Mr Ravichandra Bekal, member, GCCI IRHR Committee & Manager HR Nestle proposed the vote of thanks. Ms Pallavi Arondekar, Deputy Director, GCCI compered the program.