svaadannu@aol.in
Dear Member, I hope you are doing well. I have a concern regarding an incident that happened to me. I am working as an HR Manager in a small company. In my office, there are four members. One day, while in the office, I was talking to a field boy about First Aid Items for the vehicles - citing "Condom" two times came under the purview of Harassment at the workplace. Please suggest. One of four female employees wrote to the Director about my complaint that I was hurting her. Due to that, I give an apology letter to her. In my opinion, this is not harassment.

Thanks
Anil

From India, Lucknow
raghunath_bv
149

Hi Anil,

It seems like there might be a misunderstanding or miscommunication in your workplace. It's important to approach such situations with sensitivity and professionalism. Mentioning the term "Condom" in a workplace discussion, even if related to first aid items for vehicles, can be perceived as inappropriate by some individuals, especially in a professional setting.

If a colleague feels uncomfortable or harassed, it's crucial to address their concerns seriously. Here are some steps you may consider taking:

Apologize: It's good that you've already apologized. Acknowledge the discomfort caused and express your sincere apologies.

Reflect on your communication: Be mindful of the language and topics you discuss in the workplace. Consider whether the use of certain terms may be inappropriate or offensive to others.

Educate yourself and others: Ensure that all employees are aware of the company's policies on workplace behavior, harassment, and communication. Consider organizing training sessions to create awareness about maintaining a respectful and inclusive workplace.

Investigate the complaint: Understand the specific concerns raised by the employee who reported the incident. Investigate the matter objectively to ensure a fair assessment of the situation.

Address the issue: If there are findings that suggest inappropriate behaviour, take appropriate corrective action. This could include counseling, additional training, or other measures to prevent future incidents.

Review and update policies: If necessary, review and update your company's policies to provide clearer guidance on appropriate workplace behaviour.

And that fostering a respectful and inclusive workplace culture is essential for the well-being of all employees. Open communication, sensitivity to others' feelings, and a commitment to addressing concerns can contribute to a healthier work environment.

Thanks,

From India, Bangalore
vmlakshminarayanan
919

Hi,

Harassment at work place is any unwanted behavior, physical or verbal (or even suggested), that makes a reasonable person feel uncomfortable, humiliated, or mentally distressed. In what context you had used the word 'Condom' is not clear. If it is not used intentionally then you could have explained your stand to the concerned female employee and Director. It all depends on the situation, when you used the word your tone etc everything counts.

From India, Madras
Dinesh Divekar
7855

Dear Anil Kumar Tripathi,

I observed two things from your post.

The first one is to educate the driver on the need to keep the condom in the first-aid box. I wish you had checked the internet on the connection between the first-aid and keeping a condom.

Many NGOs in northern India in general and Delhi in particular educate the drivers on safe sex. As a part of safe sex, they tell the drivers to carry condoms with them. The drivers found the first-aid box a safe place for keeping condoms. The misconception took a newer form and the drivers thought that in case if they didn't carry condoms, then the traffic police could raise a challan against them. Though Delhi Traffic Police have clarified that condoms need not be part of the first-aid box the misconception persists.

To know more about this practice of keeping condoms in the first-aid box, you may click the following link:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/why-delhi-cabs-keep-condoms-as-first-aid/articleshow/71228424.cms

The second thing is about your communication. Your post is poorly drafted. It ill behoves the communication skills of a manager. A better communicator could have handled the situation differently.

Consider the use of the word "nipple" by a technical person. The technical meaning of this word is a short pipe with a screwthread at both ends, used as a connector. Considering the case at hand, should it mean that a technician should desist from using this word in the presence of a woman? There is a limit to the self-made rules of the violation of sensibility! I wish the woman employee had tried to understand the context of the use of the word that is socially refrained!

The sooner the woman employee raised the complaint of the sexual harassment, your kneejerk reaction was to tender an apology. I wish you had put your foot down and written a letter to the authorities concerned clarifying your stand. You were just enquiring whether the driver followed a practice that is being followed by his counterparts. Yes, without verifying the merits of the practice you raised the query about a condom. That was your mistake but by no stretch of the imagination, the query was tantamount to violating any law.

Learning from the incident: - The post shows how people raise complaints with half knowledge. The originator of this incident is the woman employee, who without checking facts, deemed it fit to raise a complaint under the provisions of the PoSH. I wish she had educated herself about the provisions of this law. No woman is expected to brandish her womanhood and scare her male colleagues. Gripped by the fear of repercussions of the complaint, far from clarifying, the male employee readily apologised. His abject surrender could embolden the woman employee.

This post is also a case of under-utilisation of human intelligence. I wish the woman employee and her male colleague had used their intelligence. People do not know how to use their intelligence, but they have started using Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is no substitute for basic human intelligence. A decision on how to use AI, when to use it, where to use it and how much to use it finally rests with the human!

Thanks,

Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
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