Thursday, April 22, 2010

When the devil runs Prada

Fashion industry has often been suspected of widespread sexual harassment. The Italian fashion brand Prada is now at the receiving end in Japan where employees are accusing the senior company executives of perpetrating sexual discrimination and sexual harassment in the name of "brand image." Read it here.

But workplace sexual harassment in Japan does not make headlines even though it is suspected to be widespread and acceptable. The mainstream Japanese media has by and large ignored the Prada lawsuit. The Japan Times, an online news portal, though had this detailed coverage.

Workplace sexual harassment is quite common in Asia. But businesses don't recognise this as a problem. Most Asian countries either do not have legislation or do not enforce laws to address workplace harassment. In recent years, the issue has received increased attention due to campaigning by women rights organisations. But businesses as well as governments have not shown any eagerness to respond.

We did a story on workplace sexual harassment in Ethical Corporation magazine in October 2oo8. See the report here.

Aware, a Singapore-based women rights organisation, has developed a training programme for companies to create awareness about the problem of workplace sexual harassment and ways to prevent and address it. In a couple of hours from now, the programme will be launched in a seminar. I will be attending it as a panelist and will be sharing corporate responsibility perspective on workplace sexual harassment. Their training information can be found here.