International Coffee Day is celebrated every year on 1st October. It is a day to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers and on this day, Tata Coffee Ltd, India’s premier coffee manufacturer, has focused this year on alleviating some of the social ills that beset coffee plantation workers. A major focus area has been the prevention of sexual harassment of women at the workplace in association with Be.artsy, a social awareness enterprise.
Tata Coffee’s CHRO, Priyanka Gidwani, decided to do something different this year. She brought on board Be.artsy, a social awareness enterprise, to focus the employees in the corporate office and at the plantations on prevention of sexual harassment, and to explain the avenues for redressal in a simple and practical fashion.
Be.artsy, which has delivered POSH (prevention of sexual harassment) interventions in companies like Pepsico India, Air India, American Express, Mediatek,G+D, British Telecom, took up the challenge in May this year to raise awareness, especially amongst the blue-collar Tata Coffee employees at Polibetta, Gubgul, Mylemoney, Ubban and Kushal Nagar (Karnataka); Valparai, Theni (Tamil Nadu); and Toopran (Telangana). Although Be.artsy’s Founder Shikha Mittal is currently focused on Be.artsy’s growth strategy, she involved herself personally in this project. She says, “When Tata Coffee requested me to lead all POSH sessions for plantations, I liked the idea of once again taking a direct role in influencing people. I missed creating positive social impact at a grass root level.”
Shikha Mittal has always felt that while addressing the adult workforce is necessary, the real change will come when children grow up with the knowledge that harassment of any type is not acceptable socially. So, during the program, when some Tata Coffee employees volunteered to conduct awareness programs at a local school, Mittal jumped at the idea. Be.artsy adapted the program for school children. She says, “We found that, as expected, children are very receptive. I remember one of the children coming up and saying, “Now I know what is good touch and bad touch and I will never let anyone do bad touch to me.’” 140 children agree.Tata Coffee, too, is thrilled with the results. The CHRO says: “The collaboration has been highly engaging and impactful for us at Tata Coffee at the corporate office. Our employees have received the interventions well and have now opened up much more. It has helped us build transparency and encouraged our employees to speak their point of view on various topics. We have also just completed batches for our blue collar workers in the estates in local language and the awareness has received extremely positive feedback. We have used this opportunity to refresh and inform them of our reporting channels including providing my contact details for reporting concerns. The partnership with Be.artsy is truly valued by us.”