After the #MeToo backlash and men refusing to work with women in many companies to save themselves from potential false #MeToo cases, companies are now drafting a policy to counter the #MeToo backlash and to ensure that men cannot make such refusals.
The #MeToo campaign for sexual harassment has gone viral worldwide in 2017-18 and women from different industries started accusing men of sexually harassing them. Most of these complaints were for cases 10/20/30 years ago or in their childhood. The woman who started this campaign herself is a dreaded human that any man would run away from. But no matter how sexist it may sound these are the women who were spearheading the #MeToo movement.
Since metoo complaints of sexual harassment were not based on any evidence and simply based on some stories that others were forced to believe (otherwise they were called sexists or chauvinists), soon after the movement started men understood the danger of the movement. A movement that started primarily in Hollywood soon spread across the world and engulfed many countries and companies.
In 2018, NBC News had done a survey of employees across the USA to understand the impact of Metoo movement. The survey has found a prominent trend in different industries and companies soon laid out extensive guidelines for their employees to prevent sexual harassment of any nature.
Since being inclusive was the goal, companies who already had internal policies to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace, strengthened those provisions. A country like India had already drafted the Sexual Harassment (prevention) law earlier and according to that law, all companies operating out of India were mandated to have certain provisions to prevent sexual harassment (only men were viewed as abusers and women as victims).
Even though the Indian law for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces had a clause that the misuse of this provision will be a punishable offence, it didn’t lay out clearly about the punishment procedures. Also, this law had a clause that stated that merely not able to prove a sexual harassment complaint would not tantamount to misuse.
As men from around the world started losing their jobs on mere complaints of sexual harassment, slowly men have stopped all interactions with their women colleagues. Not only that, men have stopped mentoring women in the fear of getting such false complaints.
The situation had become so worse that many men from around the world have taken vows not to work with women. As men stopped mentoring women and stopped interaction with their women colleagues, women found a bigger challenge on not being upskilled and as a result, companies suffered from productivity losses.
This situation sounded a bell in the corporate world and it realized the need to draft a policy to counter this #metoo backlash.
So, multinational corporate houses started drafting a policy called ‘no retaliation policy’ within their sexual harassment policy. In general, this policy states very clearly that no employee can engage in backlash or retaliation to a complainant of sexual harassment. In simple terms it means, employees can’t ignore or stop working with a complainant of sexual harassment. Companies stated in their policy that sexual harassment claims are made in good faith, and no one can show retaliation to the complainant. This policy is included in these companies’ Sexual harassment prevention policy and is compulsory of the employees to read and agree to such policy.
Sandip Shinde who works in a multi-cloud provider IT MNC in Gurgaon said, “we can’t forget what happened to the Genpact executive who had to commit suicide because of such false complaints. Now if companies force us to work with such women then it would make men very unsafe in their workplaces. It’s like either we need to leave our jobs or will be forced to leave either by #MeToo complaint or by applying Anti retaliation policy.”
Abhinandan Gupte who works for a very popular online retailer company said, “anti-retaliation policy shows how companies can become chauvinists. Its female chauvinism and sexism”.
What makes one wonder in these cases is the companies that are spearheading in drafting such policies all claim to be very inclusive, liberal and progressive companies. However, on close scrutiny of their sexual harassment policy, it is revealed all policies are sexist and drafted from feminist chauvinist views.
Ranjan Dutta who works for one of the largest IT MNCs in India said, “My company boasts about being the first in many areas. However, when I hear about such progressive companies, I remember the Google example.” (laugh).
It is pertinent to add here that in 2017 an employee from Google Inc. (James Damore) has published a memo stating the gender differences in behavior and proposed better ways to be inclusive. However, Google Inc. found his memo to be sexist and biased against females in general and fired him. A Company that boasts about being progressive and inclusive was not inclusive enough of the thought of one of their male employees who suggested better ways to be inclusive. Later that year, some of the female employees of Google has filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that Google was discriminating against its women employees and was paying them less salary compared to their male colleagues.
So, Google did an internal study of their salary structure based on gender and found that they, in fact, was discriminating against their male employees and was paying them less salary compared to the women for doing the same job.
Read the Google story from New York Times – here
Aloknath Dubey who works as an executive in a multinational bank said, “all companies are sexist. In my bank, there are so many women employees and their attitude is intolerable. You will get disgusted working with some of these urban women however in the policy we can’t say ‘no’ to working with them. Problem is, even though I know some of these women are real attention seekers and can do anything to get a raise, it’s a nightmare working in such conditions.”
Another employee working in the Hyderabad office of an IT giant said, “my company’s sexual harassment course had a scenario that showed a man as guilty of sexual harassment simply for inviting a woman colleague out multiple time. Even though she said ‘no’ politely that guy didn’t understand, and she directly complained to the sexual harassment committee. Problem is, can we afford to have such knee-jerk reactions in our offices?”
What the no retaliation policy states is – even in the above situation where a woman employee has complained about sexual harassment simply for being invited out multiple times, other employees can’t deny working with her or can’t keep distance with her. It becomes very difficult to understand for men how these are sexual harassment when we do not react like this and will only brush aside such invitations under the carpet if needed.
Amitabh Saxena who works in the policy drafting role of one Indian IT major said, “we men have no say in company policies nowadays. Even if these are highly sexist and biased.”
The best reaction, however, came from Ratul Sinha a Bangalore based employee of a multinational IT company. He said, “My company boasts about egalitarianism and inclusiveness. But it only celebrates women’s day and never celebrates men’s day. Now even though on principle our sexual harassment policy doesn’t specify males as the only abusive gender and women being only victims, all scenarios in our sexual harassment course show males as abusers and women as victims. This is at a time when our company has a large number of women executives in senior positions. If this is not sexism and chauvinism, then what it is?”
He shared an interesting story that must be shared here to conclude.
“Last year, when I saw this gender bias, I was angry, so I wrote to the company against the sexual harassment course and said, it portrayed sexism against males. It was an angry response to the course. The result was mind-blowing. The head of our sexual harassment committee called me to explain only to have a bitter altercation with me. I was angry because I saw female chauvinism in a female-led company. The scenarios silently impact our psyche to promote men as offenders of sexual harassment. Also, the definition of sexual harassment is broadening so much nowadays, that it has become almost difficult to work with women in the corporate world.
“However, when I saw the ‘No Retaliation Policy’ this year, I was angry and amused at the same time. I was shocked but didn’t want to fight with the sexual harassment committee. So, I wrote this –
This course was rather easy to pass. I have this formula for all to pass the sexual harassment course –
- Every situation where a man is involved with a woman, the man is guilty
- Every situation where two men are involved, the colored one is not guilty
- If one identifies oneself as LGBTQ+++ community, ‘they’ is not guilty
- Anywhere you find a white man, he is surely guilty
- In situations where two women are involved, the white one is guilty
…and finally, the most important point –
- Unless you get triggered easily, you can’t pass this course.”
Ratul has dared to question his company’s sexual harassment policy. Do you have the courage to do so in your company?