Worried over falling productivity and security of its women employees, tech companies are taking steps to ensure women feel safe at work and on their way home.
After the rape incident in Delhi in December, both Indian and multinational technology companies have adopted more stringent security measures, such as background checks and use of technology, to protect their women employees.
Take the case of SAP Labs. The company, employees say, has commenced karate training, handed out pepper sprays and even hired a UK-based consultant to sensitise employees on sexual harassment.
HCL Technologies has taken similar initiatives. According to Subrat Chakravarty, Vice-President and Global Head - HR, Business Services, the company has started workshops on self-defence. Further, HCL’s admin teams have set up outlets in the office premises that sell pepper sprays.
As the chances of sexual harassment are more while commuting, companies have started to screen their transport providers. For example, Yahoo does a stringent background check on its drivers . “We avoid first pick-up or drop for women from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. If this is unavoidable, we provide security escorts for all our women employees,” said a Yahoo spokesperson.
“Apart from doorstep drop for women, a follow-up call is made confirming the safe drop by the security,” said Debashis Patnaik, Senior Director HR, EMC India.
Similarly, Cisco, which has 8,700 employees in India, offers its women employees security escorts for those who are dropped home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Further, according to employees, in February it will conduct a workshop that will be addressed by a senior police officer and a demo by an agency that specialises in self-defence training.
In tier II cities, the approach appears different. “Women are asked to work on day shifts and our recent initiative in Nashik is testimony to that,” said Keshav R Murugesh, Group Chief Executive Officer of WNS.