Are the women safe in your workplace? - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

To protect their women employees, Mehul Desai, Khushru Patel, Amit Shah, Snehangshu Ganguly, Kamal Chopra and Anil Namugade have security in place. Is this enough? Should we do more?This is to reduce the risk of calamity that befell on a 36-year old women entrepreneur and owner of a printing and book-binding unit in East Delhi’s Shakarpur area.This Sunday Column is about having simple safety initiatives and improvements to make your workplaces safe

04 Dec 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

Times have changed. Times from not many years ago, when you would trust people and leave the doors unlocked. According to one report in August, 2015, the NCBR data show that crime is on the rise. India is one country which has reported a crime rate of 581.1 per 100,000 of the population.
So, do attackers look like attackers? Certainly not. People tend to assume that they are harmless because they look so.
On 25 November 2015, two unidentified assailants entered a printing and book-binding unit in East Delhi’s Shakarpur area, posing as customers, and murdered the 36-year old women entrepreneur and owner of the unit. The women, identified as Zairul Isha Khan was a widow and is survived by three daughters.
The Asian Age, Delhi, which reported the crime states, the victim’s husband, Shaukat, had died a few years ago after which she used to look after the book-binding and printing press workshop.
The report states, according to the policeman, two men had come at about 1.30 pm to the workshop posing as customers. While one of the employees, Manoranjan, went to get tea for them, the other, Prem Shankar, was pushed against the wall at gunpoint by one of the assailants. The assailant grabbed the victim and slit her throat with a sharp object, and fled the spot.
Though the assailants did not rob anything, the motive for the murder is still unknown and the police is probing the case. They are questioning both Manorajan and Prem Shankar.
The above incident in a print unit and the rising crime rates reported, it is time owners of print companies, even if they are SMEs, begin to realise that crimes can happen in and around the print workplace. And there's a need to make the workplace safer for them and their employees.
Can print companies show the way for others to make the workplace safer?
PrintWeek India spoke to few print CEOs to find out how safe women are in their workplace…
Amit Shah, Spectrum Scan
This is a horrendous act and is highly condemnable. How can an innocent woman be made a target and killed.
At our office and factory, we have many women employees. We have a 24-hour security and surveillance system in place. No woman is left alone if she is working late hours.
We have a working women committee to ensure that no untoward incident takes place. Our HR head regularly interacts with the women workforce. Even a small incident is dealt with an iron hand. We have zero tolerance for such things.
Mehul Desai, Mail Order Solutions
This is a horrible incidence, and my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased lady.
We must learn from this and ensure the safety of all who work at our units. At MOS, we have a lot of women working, and we have tried to ensure that they feel safe and secure. We have proper security to ensure that unauthorised entry is not allowed.
Also, all visitors are always accompanied by a staff member. This is also a part of our standard operating procedure being an ISO 27001 – 2013 certified company. Plus our HR is continuously working to ensure that all employees are protected and not subject to any harassment.
This horrific incidence is an eye opener, and we will again review to ensure there are no gaps
Snehangshu Ganguly, N K Gossain
We have a small group of women workers in our factory. They report directly to my sister Saspa Ganguly with special privilege to access and interact directly in case of any requirement.
We recruit women workers exclusively for post-printing units (gathering, punch, folding and binding). Most of these units are located on the 3rd floor that ensures additional safety as this floor is not visited by suppliers / clients/ visitors.
We have safety norms, too. Women workers are not allowed to remain at the factory premises beyond 6pm. There are security guards who are on constant vigil on all floors. CCTV cameras installed are closely monitored by security guards. Further, all visitors pass through the security gate and are escorted by the guards to respective departments.
Anil Namgude, Trigon Digital
I personally thank the family of our women staff who have put the trust and confidence in our company and us, for allowing them to work with us.
We have a strong security and safety norm. It’s our moral and fundamental responsibility to keep them safe.
Khushru Patel, Jak Printers
Women in our workplace are as safe as are our men. We have our benchmark when it comes to the safety of our employees. At Jak, we have never come across an incidence of robbery or indecent behaviour.
Kamal Chopra, Foil Printers
It is most disturbing news; my sympathy is with the deceased family. It is very difficult to say what’s a safe workplace. But it is advisable to have a CCTV  installed at the work place and offices. Such instruments may be helpful in tracing the culprits. The sign that CCTV is watching must also be displayed so that it is visible from a distance, and will create some sort of physiological fear for the culprits.