Three founders ousted in three weeks; why startups fail to check sexual harassment

“I don’t think sexual harassment has anything to do with the startup ecosystem or can be limited in that bracket.
It’s a global phenomenon, happens in companies of all sectors and all sizes,” says Roma Priya, legal adviser and founder of Burgeon BizSupport LLP. “It’s just that a lot of young folks of this generation do not compromise when their abilities are undermined for being a woman. Women are more aware of their rights today.”
She feels that in most startups the founders are too engaged in building a company and growing the business and often forget to build the right culture.
“When it comes to startups, their hiring priorities are often on finding the right talents and creating an aggressive and ambitious team to achieve their desired outcomes. It takes a lot of effort to simultaneously focus on building a culture that’s inclusive and equally protective for women,” she adds.
Systems and processes
Priya says most cases of sexual harassment at workplace go unreported and women often are not sure of their rights. “They resort to dealing with the situation themselves, often changing jobs or continue suffering,” she says.
A study on sexual harassment at workplace by the Indian National Bar Association proves just that. The study, conducted between April and October 2016, showed that nearly 69% of the victims of sexual abuse chose not to complain to the management fearing repercussions or retaliation.
To improve this situation, says Singh, startups should establish clear processes and rules that would help them handle sexual harassment issues more righteously.
Priya agrees, saying that startups should build a culture that offers a level of comfort and confidence for women to fight for their rights.
“It’s quite amazing to see that companies and investors supporting the victims and taking strong steps to improve the culture. That’s a huge encouragement for women to come out,” she says.
“One definite outcome from the huge publicity of these incidents is that it will empower more women to demand and get justice,” she adds.


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