As part of its endeavour to attract more women to join its delivery force, Swiggy, the food-delivery platform has introduced a Sexual Harassment Redressal Policy, which will enhance the safety of women delivery executives.
Swiggy realised that as gig workers, delivery executives were not covered under the ambit of Indian laws for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH). What also was a cause of worry was the fact that many of its delivery personnel were unaware of what exactly constitutes sexual harassment or misconduct and what are the ways to address it.
Swiggy’s Sexual Harassment Redressal Policy 2022 is aligned with the POSH Act. It covers how sexual harassment can be reported and how it will be investigated and acted upon. In case of a sexual harassment case arising due to customers, male counterparts, restaurant partners, or Swiggy employees, the woman delivery executive can reach out to Swiggy’s Emergency SOS number for support. After providing emergency assistance, if the woman seeks an investigation, she is able to lodge a complaint with the Company’s on-ground team.
If the pepetrator is a Swiggy employee, the incident is treated as a POSH case since the employee is bound to the company. If the perpetrator is a restaurant partner/ consumer or co-delivery partner, then the matter is investigated by an internal committee headed by a woman. Guidance is given to the delivery executive on the actions she can take. She is enlightened regarding the IPC codes available, the kind of support available to file a complaint, and the level of cooperation and support given to the authorities in the investigation.
According to Mihir Shah, head of operations, Swiggy, “There is no place for sexual harassment or gender-based misconduct in Swiggy’s delivery universe. Through the sexual harassment redressal policy, we are taking a proactive step in building awareness and accountability among various stakeholders in the community”.
Shah hopes that “these efforts will stop incidents from happening and also encourage women delivery executives to recognise and report incidents with the faith that action will be taken”
The policy aims to “empower women to feel safe on Swiggy’s delivery platform”.
Swiggy is working on a solution to ensure that if the harassment takes place at a customer’s location, then once the initial investigation is over, no other women delivery executive employed with Swiggy is ever assigned to that customer.
The number will be highlighted so that a woman executive is not assigned even if the customer changes locations. Grievous offenses punishable by law may even result in the removal of customers from the Swiggy platform.
The woman delivery executive is empowered to raise a police complaint against the respondent at any given point. In such cases, Swiggy will always support the authorities in the investigation.
In the last 45 days, women delivery executives have been receiving regular communication in Hindi, English, and regional languages on the definition of sexual harassment, Swiggy’s redressal policy in this regard, and the process of raising and registering a complaint.
As part of its safety measures, the Company undertakes regular pulse checks and audits, both internal and external, to spot any element or factor that can create a hurdle in the path of more women taking up gig work.
In 2021, Swiggy became the first platform to offer paid period time off to its women delivery executives. Other practical initiatives included access to vehicles as well as hygienic restrooms.
Prioritising the safety of the delivery executives, irrespective of gender, Swiggy provides an SOS button on its delivery executive app. This offers 24×7 support and connects executives to an ambulance, the local police station, or the Swiggy helpline as and when the need arises. Delivery executives are also allowed to decline deliveries if they deem an area to be unsafe. Such refusals do not invite any interrogation or disincentives.
This process also allows Swiggy to map and avoid unsafe neighborhoods, especially for women delivery executives. The internal tech team is already working on a solution to ensure that women delivery partners are not assigned to potentially unsafe areas or neighbourhoods.
This is combined with in-person sessions for the delivery executives, starting with cities such as Bangalore and Chennai where their number is highest.
Swiggy has been in regular touch with its restaurant partners to sensitise them and seek support from their staff. Male delivery executives have been receiving communication about sexual harassment and the redressal policy.
The Company is also in the process of sensitising and seeking support from its customers. The track screen that carries the delivery executive’s details will have a safety and awareness message for women executives.
Presently exploring partnerships with NGOs and other agencies working with gig workers, Swiggy wishes to promote awareness among women delivery executives on sexual harassment.
It is the Company’s hope that its initiatives will encourage the implementation of the right tools and policies that will make more gig platforms safer and more inclusive for women.