India's third largest IT firm Wipro reportedly received the highest number of complaints related to sexual harassment among the 50 Nifty companies during the financial year 2014-15. Wipro topped the list with 100 complaints, while ICICI Bank saw 94 such cases, a study conducted by the ET Intelligence Group shows.
Overall, 415 such complaints were reportedly received by as many as 38 of the 50 Nifty companies during the financial year ending March 2015, with 80% of the cases occurring in IT and banking firms.
"With a legal remedy being provided for women, there is bound to be spike in the number of complaints initially," said Vishal Kedia, founder of Complykaro Services, a boutique advisory firm.
"An increasing trend of complaints shows the increasing awareness and the conviction in the organisation's process to be able to address the concerns. We have seen around 100 cases last year and this, on a base of 152,000-plus employees, is a small percentage, but each case has its own context," said Priti Kataria, vice-president and global human resources head, GIS, Wipro.
Kataria said that the company encourages its staff to "enrol for online training module on prevention of sexual harassment". Managers were told to remain "watchful of such behaviour and to lead by example," he added.
However, such fewer such complaints were received in the manufacturing sector, as the women workforce is comparatively less compared to the other sectors. There were 24 such cases at Tata Steel and 17 cases at pharma giant Cipla.
Among public sector organisations, State Bank of India saw the highest number of cases, with 14 of its female employees reporting sexual harassment.
"The sexual harassment law formalised what we have been doing at ICICI Bank since more than a decade," said TK Srirang, head of human resources at ICICI Bank.
Reliance Industries, HDFC, Larsen & Toubro, Lupin, Bajaj Auto, ACC, ONGC and Coal India are the companies that did not receive any harassment complaints, according to the study that was limited to the 46 of the 50 organisations listed on Nifty.
"The tragedy is that, unlike global companies, sexual harassment is not a board agenda in India," said Poonam Barua, founder of Forum for Women in Leadership.