Only 50% of companies in the advertising and media world in Mumbai have a committee to address sexual harassment reveals a survey
Only half of the companies in the advertising and media fraternity in Mumbai have a committee to address sexual harassment. Over 60% of women feel their commitment to an organization would be questioned if they opted for flexible working hours. Inversely, 35% of men felt uncomfortable to opt for a flexible work schedule. These are some extremely relevant findings from a perception study of gender equality in the media and advertising industry in Mumbai.
The “Gender Equality in the Workplace Survey” was conducted among mid to senior level professionals, by Social Access Communications, a communication firm that works for social change on behalf of NGO Population First, which tackles population and health issues within the framework of women’s rights and social development. The survey was circulated among over 600 professionals, and received 130 responses.
The survey results were revealed as part of a larger agenda to sensitise advertising professionals to be more gender neutral, through a workshop ‘Men are from Venus, Women are from Mars’, hosted by Population First, on 29 November 2013. The workshop was supported by UNFPA, and designed and managed by Social Access Communications.
Gender stereotypes have firmly rooted themselves in the workplace over the past many decades, and gender-based perceptions subconsciously determine most responses to situations. Lately however, there are signs that things are changing.
Women’s empowerment is one of the foremost discussions in modern India, and not surprisingly the corporate world also has to deal with difficult questions. The reality is more and more women are joining the workforce today, and the equation will only increase. It is therefore imperative to bring the issue of gender equality into prominence at the workplace. It is necessary to undertake measures to change attitudes to be more gender neutral. With this in mind, the survey was designed to garner a better understanding of the ground situation, and to help employees be better prepared for change.
The survey details that 91% of employees ‘feel valued’, with 40% of the respondents from the 35-55 age group. Also, 88% of people say their employers genuinely support equality between men and women.
“By and large the advertising industry treats men and women fairly, and that is a heartening piece of news. However, there is significant scope for improvement as far as sensitivity towards sexual innuendo is concerned,” said Lynn de Souza, the founder of Social Access Communications, the knowledge partners for the workshop.
Interestingly enough, though, a closer look at the fine print reveals that while 68% of men ‘strongly agree’ that employers are unbiased, 67% of women ‘strongly disagree’. Further 23% of men and women feel organizations make assumptions about people’s capabilities based on gender, age, pregnancy and family commitments.
As far as flexibility of work is concerned 60% of women feel their commitment would be questioned if they opted for flexible work hours, while only 35% of men feel they can actively consider a flexible work option. 55% of people feel they have not been encouraged to apply for other positions in the organization.
“This stresses the fact that both men and women should benefit from greater flexibility in the work hours,” pointed out Lynn de Souza.
The most disturbing statistic that came out of this survey is, however, that only 50% of companies in the advertising and media world have a committee to address sexual harassment. Nine per cent of employees, both men and women, have faced inappropriate sexual contact at the workplace. Further still 17% of people have observed someone else in the organization being sexually harassed. Interestingly, men have responded that they are ‘uncertain’ about what construes as sexual harassment.
It can be concluded that while sexual harassment incidences are high, there is low reporting, and little or no knowledge on how to go about it.
Here are the survey results…
According to Nomura, if anti-incumbency proves to be a core theme in the 2014 general election, it will clearly be to Congress' disadvantage overall – although it does not follow, of course, that BJP would necessarily be the main beneficiary
The state assembly elections are viewed by many as a preview of the general elections, which are due by May 2014. The incumbent Congress has lost both Delhi and Rajasthan, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has retained a majority despite being an incumbent government in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. This indicates a rising wave in favour of the BJP as well as an anti-Congress vote in these states. However, according to Nomura, while BJP has clearly done very well in the 2013 state assembly elections, this may or may not have much of an implication on the general elections.
Sounding a cautious note that state election outcomes are not always a reliable indicator of general election prospects, Nomura said, during 1999 Congress performed exceedingly well in the state elections, but the BJP came to power at the centre a few months later. In 2003, the BJP had performed well in the state elections, but it lost the national elections held a few months later.
"This could be because voters differentiate between state and central elections and local factors play a more important role in the former. It is also important to note that the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have been traditional strong holds of the BJP, while it does not have much of a presence in the eastern and southern parts of the country," the report said.
It said it belive wins in Delhi and Rajasthan will be interpreted as a boost for BJP's prospects by financial markets and are likely to give the party additional momentum as general election campaigning starts to ramp up.
"We have previously noted that we consider Delhi, traditionally a Congress stronghold, the most important of the recent state elections in terms of possible indications for the general election. Therefore, BJP's victory there should not be dismissed, in our view, even though it, together with the solid showing of Aam Admi Party (AAP), can to an extent be attributed to the longstanding tendency of Indian voters to opt for anti-incumbency. If anti-incumbency proves to be a core theme in the 2014 general election, it will clearly be to Congress's disadvantage overall – although it does not follow, of course, that BJP would necessarily be the main beneficiary," Nomura said in a research note.
Nomura said, from an economic perspective, the state election results are likely to benefit market sentiment, but they do not have any immediate impact on the fundamental outlook.
India’s economic growth is bottoming out. GDP growth rose to 4.8% in Q3 2013 from 4.4% in Q2, led by better exports and good monsoons. However, domestic demand remains very weak. After a modest pickup in auto sales in October, ahead of the festival season, sales have again moderated in November with rising inventories indicating production cuts ahead. Weak demand and increased leverage on corporate balance sheets is likely to delay any meaningful increase in the capex cycle, which remains the key to a sustainable growth uptick. Furthermore, the government’s intent to meets its fiscal deficit target of 4.8% of GDP, with the fiscal deficit over the first seven months already at 84% of its full-year target, suggests large cutbacks in government expenditures in coming months which in turn will be a drag on growth.
"We believe that a stable government following the 2014 general elections could remove one key source of uncertainty and support a more sustainable growth uptick from Q3 2014 into 2015. Thus, we expect GDP growth to remain largely flat at 4.8% in 2014 (from 4.7% in 2013) before rising to 5.7% in 2015," Nomura said.
The Indian election results were consistent with the exit polls. In fact, the BJP's performance in two of the key states of Rajasthan and MP was better than expected.
Nomura said, "These results will be well-received by the market, in our view. The BJP is considered more right-of-center, pro-business and reform-oriented. The fact that runaway spending by the ruling party has not won any votes could be taken as a very positive signal by the markets in terms of voter preference for the kind of policy favoured by the electorate. A strong showing in these state elections by the party will induce the market to ascribe a higher probability of wins in the crucial central elections, which are scheduled to be held in May next year."
"We expect market gains to be led by high-beta domestic cyclicals (banks and industrials, mainly) and expect defensives (consumer, pharmaceuticals, telecom and IT services) to underperform. We maintain our end-March 2014 Sensex target of 22,000. Sector-wise, we remain positive on banks, IT services, pharmaceuticals, oil & gas and power utilities. We are cautious on autos, infrastructure & construction, capital goods, consumer, metals and telecom. We believe the banking sector will benefit most from the election," Nomura concluded.
Parking in cooperative housing society, or CHS, is a contentious issue for seller and flat owner who buy such space from the developer, despite a clear cut judgement from the Supreme Court. One would do well to remember that no agreement or declaration executed can override the law of the land
Nahalchnad Laloochand Pvt Ltd Vs Panchali Co-operative Housing Society (CHS) is a story of greed and excesses. Twenty five stilt car parking spaces in a building were sold by the builder to rank outsiders. Flats purchasers in the building eventually formed a society; and started obstructing the use of these parking spaces by the outsiders. Finally, the builder knocked on the doors of the City Civil Court for a permanent injunction against the Society, restraining it from distributing, in any manner, the possession of the car parking spaces. His suit was dismissed with costs. The matter then went to the Bombay High Court which, on 25 April 2008, left the builder red-faced. Yet, he did not relent and went all the way to the Supreme Court, for he was convinced that he had taken all the necessary consents and the flat purchasers could not go back on their word. Along the way, two others joined the torch bearer, as the ultimate judgement would affect their rights too.
How could the courts not grant a simple injunction against the miscreants? Not only in their respective ‘Agreements to Sell’ had the flat purchasers concurred to such sale of parking spaces by the builder but also given separate declarations to that effect. A true labyrinth of statutes, case laws, hair splitting over definitions, ensued. Provisions of Maharashtra Ownership of Flats Act, 1963 (MOFA), Maharashtra Apartment Ownership Act, 1970 (MAOA), the Development Control Regulations (DCR) promulgated under Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTPA), were pressed before the apex court and well reasoned out by it.
We all know that builders are entitled to sell a ‘flat’. So, at first, it was contented that stilt car parking space was a ‘flat’ as defined under MOFA. This ridiculous contention was, of course, rubbished by the Court. Eloquently the Supreme Court further concluded, “we find no justifiable reason to exclude parking areas (open to the sky or stilted portion) from the purview of ‘common areas and facilities’ under MOFA”. ............... “The promoter has no right to sell any portion of such building which is not ‘flat’ within the meaning of Section 2(a-1) and the entire land and building has to be conveyed to the organisation; the only right remains with the promoter is to sell unsold flats. It is, thus, clear that the promoter has no right to sell ‘stilt parking spaces’ as these are neither ‘flat’ nor appurtenant or attachment to a ‘flat’.”
But this does not mean that everything else, other than a flat, is a freebie. The correct interpretation being that builders cannot independently sell to outsiders common areas and facilities nor can they extract additional sums from the purchasers for purported sale of such common areas and facilities; the price stated in the Agreement to Sell as per the provisions of MOFA being inclusive of the proportionate price of the common areas and facilities.
The practice on the part of builders of separately selling common areas and facilities has been time and again decried by both the Bombay High Court as well as the Supreme Court. On the same premises common terrace, compound and garden cannot be sold separately by builders.
Whatever appeals to common sense and falls within the four corners of equity, justice and good conscience, is invariably the law of the land. We have a written constitution and any legislation not in harmony with its basic features can be stricken down. One would do well to remember that no Agreement or declaration executed can override the law of the land. You cannot be forced to ‘contract out’ of what is rightfully yours.
Buyers on the lookout for hand-outs should learn that there is no such thing as a free lunch and builders, on the other hand, should try not to swindle money by selling thin air. After all, avarice too is a sin, a sin, a sin.
Those seeking help or advice on CHS issues can contact Moneylife Foundation’s Legal Resource Centre (LRC) ( http://moneylife.in/lrc.html )
(Divya Malcolm is a senior associate with Kochhar & Co. The views expressed are her own and not to be construed as legal advice)