Survey reveals companies conduct self-defence workshops, sell pepper sprays to employees

In the wake of the recent Delhi rape incident, a majority of companies, especially the ones hiring women in large numbers and with odd working hours, have begun increasing their budgets to guarantee their security.

India Inc. is doing all it can to make sure women employees feel secure, and in the bargain, give them the mind-space to focus on work, said a majority of firms covered in a survey.

A majority of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Information Technology-enabled Services (ITeS) firms are conducting workshops in self-defence, and some have opened shop in office premises to facilitate the sale of pepper spray.

Companies make sure that a male security guard drops women if they are travelling alone, and drivers aren’t allowed to deviate from the travel plan. The security guard has a walkie-talkie for maintaining regular contact with the transport department.

This has been revealed in a survey by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), ahead of the International Women’s Day on March 8.

“A large number of corporates have responded to government advice to increase their overall budget for the safety and security of women, as per the quick findings of the random survey undertaken by Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF),” the apex chamber said.

The survey covered 2,500 small, medium and large businesses between January to February 2013 from Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune and Dehradun.

Approximately 89 per cent of the respondents said they are in the process of increasing their safety and security budgets for women.

The study focused on sectors such as BPO, IT/ITes sector, financial services, real estate, hospitality, tourism, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), infrastructure, media & advertising, manufacturing and textiles.

“The survey reveals that both big and small companies are likely to increase their budgets this year after the horrendous Delhi rape incident, which has shaken the confidence of the workforce in the NCR region and also in the rest of the major cities,” says Assocham secretary general D.S. Rawat.

Companies in the BPO/ITeS sector, which run in shifts, have come up with multi-level safety measures. The measures being put in place include monitoring of cabs, introduction of vehicle monitoring systems, and installation of toll-free numbers.

“Even when women are travelling to some other cities on assignment, companies make sure their safety is guaranteed. The travel desk doesn’t schedule late night or early morning flights for women, and they are always encouraged to travel during regular working hours,” said 85 per cent of the companies.

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