In its recent judgment in Aureliano Fernandes Vs. State of Goa and Others(Civil Appeal No. 2482 of 2014), the Supreme Court of India (“Supreme Court”) observed that even after a decade of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 (“POSH Act”) being formulated, its implementation and enforcement is still inadequate.

Through this case, the Supreme Court noticed serious lapses in the enforcement of the POSH Act even after such a long time. The Supreme Court observed that however salutary this enactment may be, it will never succeed in providing the dignity and respect that women deserve at the workplace unless there is strict adherence to the enforcement regime and a proactive approach by all State and non-state actors.

Non-compliance with the POSH Act will expose companies to reputational risks. Many of the directions of the Supreme Court only reiterate the existing obligations under law. Both private and state employers would accordingly need to undertake a review of the compliances under the POSH Act (in relation to IC constitution, training IC members, sensitizing employees, conducting inquiries, etc.) and ensure corrective actions are taken wherever needed.

Post this judgment, there has been a significant increase in POSH sensitization sessions, revisits of POSH policies across organisations, the most recent one being #IIMRaipur.

It was a pleasure to have conducted engaging POSH workshops at the Indian Institute of Management – Raipur! We conducted diverse sessions that were tailored for students, faculty, staff, and internal committee, fostering a culture of respect and inclusivity.

We engaged both first and second-year students in understanding workplace norms, fostering respect, and promoting inclusive and appropriate behaviour. The faculty and staff were equipped with nuances to recognize and address workplace and sexual harassment, cultivating a supportive environment. The IC Training was aimed to empower the committee members with in-depth knowledge and skills to handle POSH cases effectively.

Empowering individuals with the knowledge to prevent and address harassment, sexual or otherwise, is vital for a thriving academic community, and empowering the workforce of tomorrow.

Grateful for the enthusiastic participation and commitment to creating a safe environment for all. Special thanks to the #IIMRaipur team, #saksham team, and Bhawna Priya for the opportunity!

Let’s continue to champion institutions free from discrimination and harassment.