Monthly Archives: June 2010

Learning through a Community of Practice for Micro Small Medium Enterprises

My friend Sumeet Verghese conducted a study on how Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises use Communities of Practice to empower employees and learn from each other 

He was kind enough to share the articles with me – and with his permission am posting it for your consumption

Download now or preview on posterous

Sparking off Ideas.pdf (101 KB)

Download now or preview on posterous

Share the Power.pdf (97 KB)

Download now or preview on posterous

Attract & Retain.pdf (115 KB)

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Keep Flirting Out of the Workplace

David Davidar, who was CEO of Penguin International, the publishing house, was fired recently after an employee complained of sexual harassment. The harassment suit is against David (who was earlier CEO of Penguin India) and there's also a suit against Penguin for not taking action when the victim complained.

Author Ashok Banker wrote two blog posts (one after David's statement that the relationship was a "consensual flirtatious" one)

Going through the comments on Banker's blog posts shows how complex something like this is. And according to Canadian employment law a counter-claim may not help.

There's only one golden rule (whether you are straight/gay, man/woman) when it comes to romance/flirting in the workplace between two employees (however consensual it might seem) : Don't Do It.

On the legal aspects of sexual harassment here's a good resource to go through:

In India, it has been only six years since sexual harassment was for the first time recognised by The Supreme Court as human rights violation and gender based systemic discrimination that affects women?s Right to Life and Livelihood. The Court defined sexual harassment very clearly as well as provided guidelines for employers to redress and prevent sexual harassment at workplace.

While the Apex Court has given mandatory guidelines, known as Vishaka Guidelines, for resolution and prevention of sexual harassment enjoining employers by holding them responsible for providing safe work environment for women, the issue still remains under carpets for most women and employers.

Vishaka guidelines apply to both organized and unorganized work sectors and to all women whether working part time, on contract or in voluntary/honorary capacity. The guidelines are a broad framework which put a lot of emphasis on prevention and within which all appropriate preventive measures can be adapted. One very important preventive measure is to adopt a sexual harassment policy, which expressly prohibits sexual harassment at work place and provides effective grievance procedure, which has provisions clearly laid down for prevention and for training the personnel at all levels of employment.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

According to The Supreme Court definition, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, such as:-

  • Physical contact
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual Harassment takes place if a person:

  • subjects another person to an unwelcome act of physical intimacy, like grabbing, brushing, touching, pinching etc.
  • makes an unwelcome demand or request (whether directly or by implication) for sexual favours from another person, and further makes it a condition for employment/payment of wages/increment/promotion etc.
  • makes an unwelcome remark with sexual connotations, like sexually explicit compliments/cracking loud jokes with sexual connotations/ making sexist remarks etc.
  • shows a person any sexually explicit visual material, in the form of pictures/cartoons/pin-ups/calendars/screen savers on computers/any offensive written material/pornographic e-mails, etc.
  • engages in any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which could be verbal, or even non-verbal, like staring to make the other person uncomfortable, making offensive gestures, kissing sounds, etc.

    It is sexual harassment if a supervisor requests sexual favours from a junior in return for promotion or other benefits or threatens to sack for non-cooperation. It is also sexual harassment for a boss to make intrusive inquiries into the private lives of employees, or persistently ask them out. It is sexual harassment for a group of workers to joke and snigger amongst themselves about sexual conduct in an attempt to humiliate or embarrass another person.

    Quid pro quo and hostile work environment are the two broad types of sexual harassment.

    Sexual harassment at workplace is generally classified into two distinct types. 'Quid pro quo', means seeking sexual favours or advances in exchange for work benefits and it occurs when consent to sexually explicit behaviour or speech is made a condition for employment or refusal to comply with a 'request' is met with retaliatory action such as dismissal, demotion, difficult work conditions. 'Hostile working environment' is more pervasive form of sexual harassment involving work conditions or behaviour that make the work environment 'hostile' for the woman to be in. Certain sexist remarks, display of pornography or sexist/obscene graffiti, physical contact/brushing against female employees are some examples of hostile work environment, which are not made conditions for employment.


    UNWELCOME is the key in defining sexual harassment. It is the impact and effect the behaviour has on the recipient that will define the behaviour as sexual harassment.

    What is a workplace? A workplace is any place where working relationships exist, where employer ? employee relations exist.

    Sexual Harassment: Prevention and Resolution

    Combating Attitudes

    Patriarchal attitudes and values are the biggest challenge in implementation of any law concerning women in our society. Combating these attitudes of men and women and the personnel involved /responsible for implementation of laws and systems is most crucial in prevention of unwanted sexual behaviour. Preventing and avoiding sexual harassment involves all levels of employees/persons in any oganisation-employees and colleagues, management and bodies like trade unions. Most importantly it requires for the employer to act before a problem occurs.

    Steps Employers Can Take to Prevent Sexual Harassment A policy / procedure designed to deal with complaints of sexual harassment should be regarded as only one component of a strategy to deal with the problem. The prime objective should be to change behaviour and attitudes, to seek to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment.

    As an employer know the following:

    I] First and foremost, acknowledge that it is your legal responsibility to provide safe working environment for women free from sexual harassment and discrimination and that you can be held liable for sexual harassment by employees.

    II] Know that sexual harassment can have a devastating effect upon the health, confidence, morale and performance of those affected by it. The anxiety and stress produced by sexual harassment commonly leads to those subjected to it taking time off work due to sickness, being less efficient at work, or leaving their job to seek work elsewhere.

    III] Understand the reasons why women remain silent about sexual harassment. An absence of complaints about sexual harassment does not necessarily mean an absence of sexual harassment. It may mean that the recipients of sexual harassment think that there is no point in complaining because:

    – nothing will be done about it;
    – it will be trivialised;
    – the complainant will be subjected to ridicule, or
    – they fear reprisals.

    IV] Recognise the tangible and intangible expenses and losses organisations experience:

    – Costly investigation and litigation
    – Negative exposure and publicity
    – Embarrassing depositions
    – Increased absenteeism
    – Lowered employee morale
    – Reduced productivity
    – Decreased efficiency
    – Higher employee turn over
    – Erosion of organisation?s brand names, goodwill, and public image
    – Negative impact on stock price

    The best way to prevent sexual harassment is to adopt a comprehensive sexual harassment policy. The aim is to ensure that sexual harassment does not occur and, where it does occur, to ensure that adequate procedures are readily available to deal with the problem and prevent its recurrence.

  • Posted via email from Gautam’s Miscellanous Posts

    HR Carnival by NHRD

    The National HRD Network is apparently holding a HR Carnival at Bangalore.

    More information below


    Posted via email from Gautam’s Miscellanous Posts

    Employees First is not a “Revolutionary” Management Practice

    I got a PR pitch to review a book written by an IT CEO. The PR person claims the management practice is "revolutionary" 

    Well, obviously she hasn't read this article which shows that service companies like Southwest Airlines and Marriott already practicing it from some time before 🙂

    Here's the pitch..

    From: xxxxxt <>
    Date: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 5:06 PM
    Subject: Employees First, Customers Second

    Dear Gautam,


    I write to you on behalf of HCL Technologies (xxxxxxxx is the image management consultancy working with HCL).


    I wish to introduce you to Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS), an employee-focused, democratic philosophy—an interesting new concept for both international and national companies.


    The relevance of the 'Employees First Customer Second’ philosophy lies in the fact that it is considered as the next big management innovation idea originating from India and being recognized globally, stirring debates in the media (NYT, Sunday Times as examples), analysts (Gartner), Harvard Business School.


    Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS) practices are catalysts for fundamental change—ideas, big and small, that create unstoppable momentum for an organization – A spray of blue ocean droplets can create an ocean of change.


    EFCS practices—things like making management accountable to the employees in the “value zone” and recasting the role of the CEO—originate from ideas whose genesis lies with employees throughout the organization.


    About the Book:


    Authored by Vineet Nayar (CEO – HCL Technologies), the book Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down (Harvard Business Press, February 2010), argues that the best way for companies to meet their customers’ needs is to stop making customers their top priority. Instead, companies should shift focus to empowering employees to solve customer problems—in part by making management accountable to employees who are the real creators of value.


    The book raises important philosophical questions. Is there inherent value in every employee—in his or her knowledge, creativity, commitment to tasks and capacity to collaborate? To create the most value for customers, should we focus on how employees are empowered? Do employees, in short, make a difference?


    Conventional wisdom says companies must always put the customer first. But in many businesses—particularly services businesses—true value is created in the interface between the customer and the employee in the value zone. By putting employees first—and by making management accountable to them—companies can engender a fundamental change in the way they create and deliver unique value for their customers. Customers actually understand the value of an Employees First, Customers Second (EFCS) approach before—and better—than a company’s own management (especially at first), because it’s the customers who benefit the most.


    The author has detailed every step – ‘Mirror, Mirror’, Trust through Transparency, Inverting the Organizational Pyramid, Recasting the Office of the CEO, that was used to transform the company.

     Would the topic be of interest to write about on your blog? Enclosed is a summary of the book.

    Should you need any information on the book or a copy of the book, do get in touch with me.


    Look forward to knowing your thoughts.


    Kind Regards,


    Posted via email from Gautam’s Miscellanous Posts

    Bongs in the World Cup

    posted by Zo 🙂

    This time around, too, there are quite a few Bongs playing for various
    countries. With Denmark having qualified, hordes of bodyis from the
    famous Sen family of Bodyinath Dham are in action. Soren Sen (Jersey No.
    1) will keep goal for them while two of his distant cousins are his
    deputies – Ander Sen (16) and Christian Sen (22). In defence, there are
    Jacob Sen (6) and Simon Poul Sen (15). The midfield sees the presence of
    Christian Poul Sen (2), Jen Sen (7), the veteran Jogen Sen (10) (who is
    now called Jorgen in Danish), Jakob Poul Sen (14), Enevold Sen (20) and
    young Erik Sen (21) who at 18 is one of the youngest players in the
    competition this year. The Denmark attack has Lar Sen (18) who scored 5
    goals in 5 games during qualification. The team is coached by the round
    old man Ol Sen, who played with such distinction in 1986, albeit with a
    sore throat.

    Bodyis, as you know, have spread everywhere. Germany has a bodyi in
    their squad, defender Jan Sen (2), while another defender Mathij Sen (4)
    is playing for the Netherlands. Yet another defender Nel Sen (6),
    presumably a descendant of Nellie Sen Gupta, is captaining New Zealand.
    Why most of these bodyis are defensive is a question that I shall avoid
    answering as of now.

    Other countries have their Bongs too, though they may not be bodyis. The
    first name that comes to mind is that of the Cameroon defender from the
    French club Valenciennes – Gaetan Bong (Jersey No. 12). Here is a Bong
    who proudly announces his awesome heritage.

    Ghana has a descendant of Prince Dwarka Nath Tagore in their squad –
    striker Prince Tagoe (12). (Some obvious clerical error has somehow
    removed the r from his surname.) A scion of the Sonar Bene family of
    Chetla is also in the Ghana team – defender Lee Addy (19). Ivory Coast
    has a somewhat retarded Bong in their squad – defender Arthur Boka (3),
    while another Sonar Bene or Johuri is their number 6 – defender Steve,
    though he now spells his surname with a `G' and is listed as Steve
    Gohouri. (La French influence, no doubt!) Another Bong in the Ivorian
    squad is film star Bumba da's younger brother defender Bamba (22).
    Nigeria has appointed a Bong as captain – striker Kanu Babu (4). Another
    Bong in the Nigerian team will try to forget the bitterness and deliver
    – he is striker Kalu Uchhe (12).

    France has left out Saha Babu this year, but they do have two elderly
    Bongs in their squad, midfielder Malou Da (15) and goalkeeper Mandan Da
    (16). (As their jersey numbers signify – Bongs do tend to stick
    together, especially in a foreign country.)

    Japan too has three elderly Bongs in their squad – defender Uchi Da (6),
    midfielder Hon Da (18) and forward Tama Da (11). The three dadas shall
    adequately look after the three departments of defence, midfield and
    offence. Another Bong in the Japanese squad is that great disciple of
    Goddess Kali – midfielder Ma Koto Hasebe (17). 53 year old Oka Da is the
    Japanese coach.

    That perennially lazy Bong is in the Spanish squad once again – he who
    never even hits a ball. He is defender Carlos Marche Na (4).

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