Drawing a Laxman Rekha against harassment at work
For any leader to send a powerful message that diversity and inclusion are priorities for the organization, s/he needs to “walk the talk”. And that’s exactly why Deepak Iyer, managing director, Mondelez India, delivers a clear-cut message against sexual harassment through the company’s signature Laxman-Rekha road show, a skit to address the topic. “I make it a point to participate in our Laxman-Rekha programmes every year and deliver a personal message to my team on my commitment to uphold our values and ethical standards on sexual harassment,” he says.
Launched four years ago, the Laxman Rekha campaign is part of the attempt to create employee awareness to communicate policies. “We have successfully used theatre as a medium to build awareness around inclusion and sexual harassment at the workplace. These programmes help colleagues understand the boundaries of what’s acceptable and what’s not in a professional working environment,” Iyer says.
The idea was to find an innovative medium to share key messages on sexual harassment as well as personal and professional boundaries and spaces. A skit ensures immediate connect and recall.
In the first year, skits were performed by professional actors; now they are staged by Mondelez employees—the company finds this has a stronger impact since the players already have a rapport with the audience. Enacted in three languages (English, Hindi and Telugu) across eight locations, including branches, factories and the head office, the skit explores a new theme every year. For instance, last year’s theme, Swach Vichaar Abhiyaan, addressed issues such as the need to “respect personal space”, “keep it professional”, and “zero discrimination”. To reinforce the company’s priority stance on the topic, the performance ends with the site leadership team, or, in some cases, Iyer himself, addressing the audience.
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