Trial by media and POSH
In the last few days, the media has been abuzz with several instances of sexual harassment in the film and entertainment industry. What began with a #metoo interview by one actress has snowballed into a mass campaign against sexual harassment at work. The momentum it has gathered is attributable, by and large, to the media (including social media) attention received. However, it must be noted that this is a slippery slope and can lead to the guilty going scot-free or the innocent being punished, courtesy a not-so-fair trial by media. The law and the principles of natural justice dictate the need for a fair and unbiased trail, with both the accuser and the accused being given equal opportunity to be heard. A media trail is devoid of all these basic requirements and is quick to the gallows when public opinion is in favour of the accuser, especially in cases of POSH.
Companies must be cautious and aware that pointed coverage by the media often has the effect of mass hysteria and employees may go straight to the press with instances of harassment, if the company has failed to address their concerns quickly and effectively. A robust reporting mechanism, effective training and timely intervention can save the day. The law also dictates the need for a conducive work environment for all, and the same can only be possible if the company ensures it has all the policies in place to report, investigate and address instances of Sexual Harassment.