Ayesha, a feisty, young & ambitious small-town girl from Indore had come to Mumbai, the city of dreams to accomplish her dreams of making it big in the corporate world.
Ayesha who was working in a reputed bank got fired for a faux pas made by her. She was re- hired in the bank in a department which was not her area of expertise & she felt her ability was being wasted by being in the wrong department.
She had requested the HR to transfer her to the finance department where her area of expertise lies. However, her request had been denied by the HR department since they felt she was a misfit because of being fired recently.
The increasing pressure of returning to her hometown & getting married from her parents made Ayesha stay at her job.
At an Office Party which was held by the bank for its new employees, Ayesha met Deepak who was the MD of the finance department.
Ayesha’s happiness knew no bounds after meeting Deepak. She casually mentioned her desire to work with him in his department & enjoyed the party in Deepak’s company along with the other employees as Deepak shared his stories of his struggles & never giving up attitude during his initial working days.
Ayesha was really inspired by Deepak’s stories & was really hoping & looking forward to working for him.
Towards the end of the party when Deepak offered Ayesha to drop her home, Ayesha accepted it without a second thought.
To Ayesha’s bewilderment Deepak used his power of authority & sexually assaulted Ayesha in return for a transfer in his department on their way back home.
This is a typical case of quid pro quo sexual harassment. This for That, it plays around power dynamics.
It is usually is perpetrated by someone who is in a position of power or authority over another. An instance of quid pro quo sexual harassment would be; a supervisor requesting sexual favours as a condition for hiring, promotion, advancement, or opportunities.
A person in a superior/higher position using their power over a person in a lower position than them by threatening to terminate, transfer, demote, or otherwise adversely affect an employee’s work life if sexual favours are not given or continued.
The primary challenge with investigating quid pro quo sexual harassment is that it can be very subtle & the likelihood of victim complaining is less. This is either because the employee is benefited out of it or fears retaliation.
In our story, an office colleague of Ayesha witnessed the sexual harassment that took place with Ayesha. When confronted, out of fear Ayesha brushed it off saying that it was consensual & did not report to the higher authorities.
An ill effect of quid pro quo is that it is not only that the victim is harassed, but other employees are being discriminated too.
In our story Ayesha did not receive the transfer on merit basis. There could have been a more qualified & deserving person in the company for the post that Ayesha received.
Since quid pro quo is difficult to spot because most of them go unreported, here are a few signs that the Internal Committee (IC) members and HRs can watch out for.
Subtle nature of quid pro quo makes it difficult to notice, investigate and act against.
Only well-trained IC members will be able to read between lines while interviewing witnesses, complainants, and respondents.
The responsibility of IC members in ensuring equality in an organization cannot be emphasized more. Hence it is important to ensure that IC members undergo thorough POSH training regularly to ensure the effectiveness of the Internal Committee.
Here is how I can help you:
External Committee Member-Handing POSH cases
• Drafting a Policy/Review of existing POSH-related policy
• Formation of Internal Committee
• Employee Awareness Training
• Internal Committee (IC) Training
• Managing POSH Compliance
• Filing Annual Return
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Story Reference: Bombay Begums