Policy on Prevention of Sexual Harassment

Introduction

We at IT for Change (hereafter referred to as the "Organization", "we" or "us" as the context may require) are committed to providing a safe and conducive working environment to all our employees. The Organization strongly opposes all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence at the workplace and follows a zero-tolerance policy towards acts of sexual harassment.

The Organization hereby notifies its Anti-Sexual Harassment Policy ("Policy") for the attention of all its employees. The Policy seeks to prohibit sexual harassment at the workplace, to address complaints of sexual harassment encountered at the workplace, frame procedures for redressal and resolution of such complaints and promote awareness and sensitivity on issues relating to sexual harassment, irrespective of one’s gender, sexual orientation and preference. The other objective of this Policy is to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 and the Rules framed thereunder.

The Organization reserves the right to revise the provisions of the Policy as and when deemed necessary by it.

Scope

This Policy is to ensure a secure work environment where its employees (as defined hereinafter), agents, vendors, contractors and partners can pursue their respective activities pertaining to the Organization, free of acts of sexual harassment and intimidation and is applicable to all/every office/branches of the Organization which are currently in existence and which may be established or set up in future and is applicable to all its employees.

Definitions

Aggrieved Person – means an Employee of the Organization who alleges to have been subjected to any act of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. The term "Person" shall refer to a natural person of any age or gender.

Employee – for the purposes of this Policy, the term "Employee" means any person employed by the Organization, for any work on a regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wage basis, either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied, and includes a trainer, co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or consultant. It includes regular full-time employees, part-time employees and members of the Organization’s management.

Workplace – includes all premises/precincts where the Organization’s establishments are currently located or may be located in the future, as well as any place visited by an Employee due to, or during the course of their employment with the Organization.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment shall mean and include any one or more of the following unwelcome acts of behavior (whether directly or by implication):

(i) Physical contact and advances;

(ii) A demand or request for sexual favors;

(iii) Making sexually coloured remarks;

(iv) Showing pornography, making or posting sexual pranks, sexual teasing; or

(v) repeatedly asking to socialize during off-duty hours or continued expressions of sexual/ romantic interest against a person’s wishes;

(vi) deprecatory comments, conduct or any such behavior based on the gender identity or sexual orientation of a person;

(vii) Voyeurism, Stalking,

(viii) Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

The following circumstances, amongst others, if it occurs or is present in relation to, or connected with any act or behavior of Sexual Harassment (as defined above), will also amount to Sexual Harassment:

(i) An implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in the Aggrieved Person’s employment; or

(ii) An implied or explicit threat about the Aggrieved Person’s present or future employment status; or

(iii) Interference with the work of the Aggrieved Person, or creating an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment for the Aggrieved Person; or

(iv) Humiliating treatment that is likely to affect the Aggrieved Person’s health or safety.

Examples/Instances of Sexual Harassment

Listed hereafter, are examples of certain acts or conduct which, if unwelcome, will constitute Sexual Harassment:

(i) Unwelcome advances, whether they involve physical touching or not;

(ii) Sexual epithets, jokes, written, verbal or non-verbal references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding an individual’s sexuality, sex life; inappropriate comments on an individual’s body, dress, gait, conduct, marital or relationship status; comments about an individual’s sexual preference, activity, deficiencies, or prowess, or inquiries into an individual’s sexual experiences;

(iii) Displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, pictographs or displaying body parts;

(iv) Unwelcome leering, whistling, brushing against the body, sexual gestures, suggestive or insulting comments; and

(v) Any sexually coloured remark or behavior that creates an environment that is intimidating, hostile or offensive for any person.

Responsibility

All Employees have the responsibility to report any act of Sexual Harassment that they are victims of, or that come to their knowledge, to the ICC (as defined hereafter) with the consent of the Aggrieved Person. If an Employee or any other person reports any act of Sexual Harassment to a member of the Organization’s management, such member shall mandatorily and promptly report the same to the ICC.

The management of the Organization shall promote a conducive working environment within the Organization in order to ensure that Aggrieved Persons are comfortable reporting any instances of Sexual Harassment, without fear of victimization or retaliation.

Internal Complaints Committee

The Organization has constituted an Internal Complaints Committee (hereinafter, the "ICC") to consider and redress complaints of Sexual Harassment. The ICC consists of 5 (five) members, 4 (four) of whom are women. It is headed by a senior woman Employee, and also consists of one third party expert member. Attached herewith as Schedule I is a list of individuals that presently constitute the ICC. Any change in the constitution of the ICC will be notified to the Employees, and such notice will be displayed on a notice board at the workplace of the Organization.

The ICC can be contacted at [icc@itforchange.net]; The Organization will notify the Employees in writing of any change in the contact details.

Complaints

Any Aggrieved Person may either directly or indirectly (through a friend, relative or co-worker), submit a complaint of an alleged incident of Sexual Harassment to the ICC. Such complaint should be in writing and should be signed by the Aggrieved Person. The Organization is committed to ensuring the anonymity and confidentiality of the Aggrieved Person except for the purposes of the investigation and redressal. A complaint should be filed within 3 (three) months from the date of the incident, and in case of a series of incidents, within 3 (three) months from the date of the last incident. This time period may be condoned for a further period of 3 (three) months, if circumstances warrant such extension, at the sole opinion of the ICC.

Members of the ICC should render reasonable assistance to an Aggrieved Person for filing a written complaint, in case s/he is unable to do so.

Redressal Mechanism

To the extent practically possible, complaints of Sexual Harassment by Aggrieved Persons will be addressed in accordance with the following process:

(i) On receipt of a complaint, the ICC will initiate an inquiry into the complaint.
The ICC may, if required, ask the Aggrieved Person to furnish additional information or documents pertaining to the alleged incident and/or produce a list of witnesses thereto;

(ii) The ICC will forward a copy of the complaint and all supporting documents filed by the Aggrieved Person to the person alleged to have committed the act of Sexual Harassment (hereafter referred to as the "Respondent"). The Respondent may file a response to the complaint, in writing, to the ICC, within a maximum period of 10 (ten) working days;

(iii) Prior to commencement of the process set out in (i) and (ii) above and subject to the facts and circumstances of the case, the ICC may make reasonable efforts to settle matters between the Aggrieved Person and the Respondent through conciliation, subject to the Aggrieved Person consenting to the conciliation process. If such conciliation proceedings are successful, the ICC will record the terms of the settlement, and forward the same to the management of the Organization for implementation;

(iv) If the Aggrieved Person and the Respondent fail to arrive at a settlement during the conciliation process, the ICC will proceed with conducting an inquiry into the allegations set out in the complaint and may, if necessary, conduct an oral hearing. If a hearing is deemed necessary, the ICC will provide the Aggrieved Person and the Respondent 7 (seven) days’ prior written notice of the date, time and place of hearing;

(v) The ICC may, at its discretion, summon and examine any witness or other relevant persons during an inquiry or hearing;

(vi) If the Aggrieved Person or the Respondent, without sufficient cause, fails to present herself/himself before the ICC and participate in the inquiry, despite having been provided fair opportunity to do so, the ICC may conduct and conclude such inquiry ex parte;

(vii) If the Respondent and/or Aggrieved Person is/are contract employees (that is, employees engaged through a contractor), the ICC will involve the contractor (direct employer of the parties) in the inquiry and hearing (if any) as may be required, at the sole discretion of the ICC;

(viii) Upon conclusion of the inquiry, ICC will submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the management of the Organization within a period of 15 (fifteen) days from the date of the final inquiry hearing; and

(ix) The management of the Organization will notify its decision in writing, to both parties, based on the ICC’s report, within a maximum period of 60 (sixty) days from the receipt of the report.

All inquiries and hearings under this Policy shall be conducted in an impartial and confidential manner, in accordance with the principles of natural justice. The Aggrieved Person, the Respondent and the ICC shall maintain complete confidentiality as regards the complaint and the proceedings.

While awaiting the conclusion of the inquiry proceedings, the ICC may, at the instance of the Aggrieved Person, consider placing the Aggrieved Person or the Respondent on leave (not requiring him/her to attend work) or place the Aggrieved Person or the Respondent at a different location/department. Such decision is at the sole discretion of the ICC.

Punishment for Sexual Harassment

If the Respondent is found guilty of Sexual Harassment, the ICC may recommend an appropriate penalty/punishment in its report to the management of the Organization. Such punishment may include, but need not be limited to, the following:

(i) Requiring the Respondent to provide a written apology to the Aggrieved Person;

(ii) Issuing a warning, reprimand or censure to the Respondent;

(iii) Withholding promotions, pay rises or increments;

(iv) Deducting requisite penalty from the wages of the Respondent, as deemed appropriate.

(v) Directing the Respondent to pay such sum, as deemed appropriate, to the Aggrieved Person;

(vi) Terminating the Respondent from his/her employment with the Organization;

(vii) Requiring the Respondent to undergo counseling sessions; and/or

(viii) Requiring the Respondent to carry out community service.

Confidentiality

The Organization, the ICC and all concerned persons, including the Aggrieved Person, the Respondent, Employees, and witnesses (if any) will be bound by confidentiality obligations, and any breach thereof, may result in penalties or other disciplinary action. All information pertaining to instances of Sexual Harassment which have been addressed under this Policy, including the following, shall be kept confidential:

(i) The complaint;

(ii) Statements of concerned persons, including the Aggrieved Person, Respondent and witnesses;

(iii) The identity of the Aggrieved Person, Respondent and witnesses;

(iv) Information relating to inquiry proceedings; and

(v) Recommendations of the ICC and action taken by the Organization’s management.

False/Malicious Complaints

False/malicious complaints will be dealt with strictly by the ICC. Where the ICC arrives at a conclusion that the allegation against the Respondent is malicious or that the Aggrieved Person or any other person making the complaint has made the complaint knowing it to be false or the Aggrieved Person or any other person making the complaint has produced forged or misleading documents, the ICC may, as it deems fit, recommend action to be taken against the person, by the management of the Organization. However, mere inability to substantiate a complaint or provide adequate proof will not attract action against the Aggrieved Person or any other person who has filed the complaint.

Schedule I

Members of the ICC:

Anita Gurumurthy: President

Deepti Bharthur: Member

Sohel Sarkar: Member

Parminder Jeet Singh: Member

Laxmi Murthy: External Member.