I often get asked if it is ok to retain the same Sexual Harassment Internal Committee (IC) for more than 3 years. The reasons quoted are multiple, some positive and some not so positive. Let’s take an analysis of what the Indian law state on this, the Challenges faced by organizations and the Key benefits of rotating IC members.
As per the Indian Sexual Harassment Act, 2013, the tenure of the members of the Internal Committee:
The Presiding Officer and every member of the Internal Committee shall hold office for a period not exceeding three years from the date of nomination as a member. (Section 4 (3) of the Act). This includes the external member too.
Some of the most common reasons for not rotating:
- The expertise and Experience of long-term committee members can contribute to more effective and efficient resolution of issues.
- Institutional Knowledge and process adherence are preserved by retaining committee members.
- Trust and Familiarity can help foster trust among employees.
- Lack of Senior women employees to rotate.
- Organizational Relationships of the committee members with other stakeholders within the organization, such as HR professionals, legal teams, and management. These relationships can facilitate smoother collaboration and coordination when addressing sexual harassment cases, leading to more efficient and effective resolutions.
|Also, factor in some of the voices of the employees as stated below in your decision to rotate:
“The IC member was very close to my manager; hence I did not muster the courage to report a complaint. I will wait for the IC member to change.”
“The IC members themselves are flirtatious. They crack double meaning jokes and are highly judgmental.”
“I have heard the committee swaying the results in favour of the management and top performers.”
“IC lacks diversity, all top management folks, and boomers only from HR & legal are present. We do not want to trust them. We need people who will understand the current generation.”
“I have heard from colleagues that the committee has not been very transparent in their inquiry.”
Changing the internal committee responsible for addressing sexual harassment every three years has several important benefits:
- Fresh Perspective: Rotating committee members regularly bring in new perspectives, ideas, and approaches to addressing sexual harassment. It prevents stagnation and ensures that the committee remains open to new strategies and solutions.
- Avoiding Bias: By changing the committee regularly, there is less likelihood of bias or conflicts of interest developing over time. Different committee members can provide a more objective and unbiased perspective when handling sensitive cases.
- Skills Enhancement: Regular rotation allows more employees to gain experience and skills in handling sexual harassment cases. This helps in building a broader pool of knowledgeable individuals who can effectively address such issues within the organization.
- Continuity and Accountability: Changing the committee ensures that no single group or individuals hold the responsibility indefinitely. It promotes a sense of shared accountability among employees and prevents the concentration of power or influence within the committee.
- Adapting to Organizational Changes: As the organization evolves, the composition of the internal committee may need to change to reflect the diversity and dynamics of the workforce. Regular rotation enables the committee to better align with the evolving needs and demographics of the organization.
- Increased Confidence and Trust: Regular changes in the committee members can foster confidence and trust among employees who may feel more comfortable approaching different individuals with their concerns. It also sends a message that the organization takes sexual harassment seriously and is committed to maintaining a fair and impartial process.
It’s important to note that the specific duration for rotating the internal committee may vary based on organizational needs and local regulations. Regular evaluation and feedback from committee members and employees can help determine the appropriate rotation period for the committee.
Organizations need to balance the benefits of retaining a stable internal committee with the need for fresh perspectives and avoiding potential conflicts of interest. Regular evaluation and feedback mechanisms should be in place to assess the committee’s performance and address any concerns regarding bias, fairness, or effectiveness.
Please reach out to us for any queries on Benefits of Rotating Sexual Harassment Internal Committee Periodically.