By Anuradha Gandhi and Isha Sharma
The blue collar workers/ workforce, comprising a significant portion of the labour market, plays an indispensable role in driving the Indian economy. However, this segment has often been overlooked when it comes to comprehensive training programmes, particularly in the realm of workplace ethics and gender sensitivity. Recognizing this gap, progressive companies across various industries have acknowledged that it is not the responsibility of a specific segment of the workforce to create a safe and secure working environment but a collective effort involving every employee, regardless of their role. This shift reflects a broader understanding that awareness, respect and safety are core values that should be ingrained in workplace culture.
As the POSH landscape continues to evolve, the commitment to awareness and training has transcended traditional boundaries. In recent years, as the number of reported cases continues to rise, there has been a noticeable and significant rise in the awareness and training programs related to the POSH in workplaces across various sectors. This surge is a direct response to the growing recognition of the importance of creating safe and respectful work environments for all employees.
From White-collar employees to now including Blue-collar workers and Third-Party Staff Organisations, of all sizes, both large corporations and small to medium enterprises are expanding their horizons when it comes to creating awareness about the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (POSH) law. Recent reports in the Economic Times highlight a shift from primarily targeting white-collar employees to now including blue-collar workers and third-party staff in their efforts to educate and sensitize employees across all levels. This initiative aims to establish a safer, more respectful workplaces in response to the alarming surge in the sexual harassment cases.
Advisory platforms which specialize in providing guidance to companies on POSH compliance, have noted a significant increase in the demand for sessions targeting blue-collar and third-party workers. This surge in demand has led to a 100-150% rise in sessions tailored to this demographic over the past year. The need for e-modules and trainers proficient in local languages has also witnessed a sharp up-stick to better connect with this audience.
It was rightly reported by one such platform that there has been a nearly 150% increase in the demand for workshops and awareness programs focusing on blue-collar and third-party workers.
“Companies are looking at POSH and DEI as part of a larger culture conversation; knowing that if they want a workplace free of sexual harassment, they need to fix unconscious biases, culture, etc. For that, the entire workforce needs to be sensitized, you can’t look at certain segments in isolation.”1
This is not just limited to advisory platforms. One of a prominent online food delivery platform, have also recognized the importance of addressing sexual harassment concerns across all employee levels and had launched a sexual harassment redressal policy for their delivery partners. They even emphasized their commitment to providing regular training programs and awareness sessions in Hindi, English and regional languages with an aim to prevent incidents and empower delivery partners to report any issues confidently, knowing that swift action will be taken.
What particularly noteworthy is that this shift in demand for POSH compliance training is not merely limited to multinational corporations. Small companies, unicorns, startups, schools, universities and even non-governmental organizations (NGOS) are increasingly enrolling in such training programs.
Additionally, it was also brought into news that a session was conducted for an educational institute, specifically designed for over 150 support staff members, including guards, security personnel and housekeeping staff. This session covered various aspects such as respect, safety, prevention of sexual harassment, and the importance of speaking up in case of any concerns. The highlight of the session was it took due consideration of the fact that blue collar workers too often face heightened work pressure, coupled with the fear of potential job loss. Furthermore, they may not always possess the same level of awareness and articulation as compared to their white collar counterparts.2
Blue-collar workers are often the backbone of industries, whose significance are generally overshadowed by the white collar workers. Empowering them with POSH training equip them with the knowledge and awareness to identify, report and prevent instances of sexual harassment at workplaces. Further, it also ensures that they understand their rights and avenues for redressal.
Increase in such training sessions not only ensures in creating a safe and secure environment but also challenges the societal stereotypes about who benefits from such programs. It underscores a strong and powerful message of breaking of the silence surrounding workplace harassment in these sectors. It reflects a growing acknowledgement that no sector or occupation is immune to the challenges posed by harassment and every employee, irrespective of their role or background, deserves equal protection and respect. This inclusivity contributes to breaking down barriers and fostering a more harmonious workplace.
Besides this, a notable trend set up organisations is the integration of e-learning modules to deliver POSH training to employees. Leveraging technology, organisations are ensuring that this crucial training is accessible, engaging and flexible. The advantage of e-learning module is it caters to the diverse needs of workers, providing the convenience of remote learning, thereby allowing employees or workers to undergo such training at their own pace, leading to overcoming logistical challenges often faced by blue-collar workers.
The interactive and engaging nature of e-learning modules ensures that crucial information is communicated effectively. By embracing such initiatives, organisations not only enhance the scalability of their programs but also cater to the diverse learning styles and schedules of their workforce.
We at S.S. Rana & Co. understand the need and thus are providing customized POSH e-learning modules designed to meet your unique needs and requirements. It would be our pleasure to share these modules with you, allowing you to explore firsthand how they align with your organization’s objective.
The expanding outreach for POSH training and awareness programs reflects a broader recognition that POSH compliance and awareness are not limited to any one segment of the workforce. The commitment to creating safe, respectful, and inclusive workplaces is now a shared responsibility, involving all employees, regardless of their roles and responsibilities. As the demand for these initiatives continues to grow, it underscores the evolving landscape of workplace culture, where awareness, respect and safety are becoming non-negotiable priorities.3