Safer workplaces for the women of Bengaluru with the Billion Eyes program

The safety of women at the work place, in the course of work and in transportation, continues to challenge companies, as more and more women enter the work force. This problem will continue to grow unless proactive and purposive steps are taken by companies, industry associations, police, judiciary and citizens to secure the safety of women.

In a dipstick poll conducted by B.PAC amongst invitees with about 900 respondents, it was noticed that while employees were generally aware of the existence of the POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace) Act, they were not aware of the provisions of the Act and how it could be used in the prevention and redressal of untoward incidents. This pointed to the fact that organisations needed to focus sharply on processes that would aid prevention and redressal.

Under its B.SAFE initiative, B.PAC hosted a first of its kind conclave in the country to bring to the forefront the several issues concerning women’s safety involving multiple stakeholders. The Billion Eyes Conclave brought together multiple stakeholders- leading industry associations and organisations such as NHRD, FICCI, NASSCOM, IACC, CII, FM Zone, EMERG, COWE, WeCONNECT and experts such as counsellors, lawyers and other subject matter experts and NGO’s, under one platform, to address the issue of prevention and speedy redressal of sexual harassment at work places, in the course of work and during travel.

B.PAC’s objective in launching the Billion Eyes Conclave:

  • To be a catalyst in heightening the awareness and understanding about the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplaces (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, sharing learnings, issues, challenges and best practices, through industry bodies, associations, organisations, NGOs and other stakeholders, through similar platforms.
  • To be an advocacy group to drive collective action for a Safer Bangalore.
  • The Billion Eyes Conclave is not just an event. It is the launch of a sustained campaign for a safe workplace in Bangalore City.

B.PAC through the above mentioned stakeholders, hopes to calibrate the success and effectiveness of its agenda over time through three simple metrics that measure levels of awareness and understanding of the law amongst employees, ICC compliance rates, and employee perception for a safer work place in its multiple dimensions including night shifts, company and public transport systems, etc. This would go a long way in building Bangalore as a safe city for women at the work place.

Participants at the Billion Eyes conclave. Pic: Sharath SR

At this conclave, a wide range of aspects across different industry sectors that employ a large number of women were discussed, and views, best practices and unique industry approaches were shared by the expert panels. The conclave was successful in sensitising and highlighting the various challenges by 25 speakers to more than 400 participants. TV Mohandas Pai, Vice President, B.PAC  moderated a conversation netween the city’s top CEO’s on the pressing need to make workspaces more accountable for the safety of its women employees. MN Reddi, Commissioner of Police assured attendees of full cooperation from his Department for smoother implementation of the aforesaid law. 

A panel moderated by Sharad Sharma, Co-Founder iSPRIT was solely dedicated to understand how technology solutions can be leveraged to create safer workspaces and to aid prevention, assist in investigation and collecting evidence, and speedy redressal of such crimes.  Pradeep Bhargava, Director, Cummins India Ltd & Co-Founder of SEMAA from Pune shared his experience in prioritizing women’s safety in Pune.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, President of B.PAC, stressed upon the pressing need for a cultural change in addressing this problem and spoke eloquently on the need for respect for women to start at home. She urged everyone to become a part of the solution and emphasised the importance for all industry bodies and associations to work together in creating safe workplaces for women.

Revathy Ashok, CEO, B.PAC added, “This conclave is just the beginning of a movement to build a safer Bengaluru with commitment to a set of metrics that will help us measure our progress in this journey to safety.”

A role play of an office scenario stressing the importance of personal boundaries and behaviour was performed by Team Durga, a social movement empowering women and girls addressing sexual harassment.

Chitra Talwar, Convenor B.SAFE said, “Our goal is to catalyse the safety movement across industry sectors and make Bengaluru one of the safest places to work in the country.”

All the partners of The Billion Eye Conclave pledged their support and solidarity to this cause and promised to work towards an outcome driven policy in their respective organisations and associations.

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