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Power, Sexuality and Gender Dynamics at Work

Power, Sexuality and Gender Dynamics at Work

January 2021 | 248 pages | SAGE Response
Power, Sexuality and Gender Dynamics at Work explores the friction between people with different gender and sexual identities in corporate organizations. While organizations genuinely want to promote gender balance and remove biases against sexual minorities, the experiences, struggles and doubts therein have remained undisclosed. Moreover, D&I and POSH initiatives driving this agenda through political correctness are restrictive. 

In this book, Roop and Uma use organizational lived experiences to analyse interpersonal conflicts, dilemmas and dynamics that manifest in accusations and grief, often leaving leaders and managers perplexed. Read along as they grapple with a complex phenomenon and advocate tapping the potential of creativity, compassion and trust between different genders, identities and orientations. 
Foreword by Ashok Malhotra
Easy Flirting or Coercive Persuasion
Crying Foul!
The Whistle Blower
Bystanders’ Betrayal
What Is One’s Own Business, Anyway?
Soft Targets?
A Man’s Gaze
Being Illegal
Personal versus Professional: Conflict in Non-Profits
Morality and Judgements of ICC Members
Love, Power and Patriarchy
Quid Pro Quo
Taking Action
Sexual Harassment Laws: The Good, The Bad, The Inadequate
The Moot Questions

This book is a ‘must-read’ for every HR professional before they enter the industry. It is filled with thoughtful case studies and the nuances of the matters of the parties involved—the policy makers, the organizations with its POSH and ICC, and the employees. The issue is that while we are all aware, gap between awareness and action is a big one. Communication and awareness at the employee level will build the right culture in an organization. A fascinating read. Just outstanding!

S. V. Nathan
Partner and Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India

A book that provokes, invites, challenges, questions and cleverly takes us to engage with the many shades of grey…. 

At a time when the world seems polarized into right and wrong, good and bad and when setting up of boundaries has resulted in ‘othering’, this book is an invitation to have a dialogue and to create spaces of exploration, self-reflection and discovery. The book pushes us into examining the frames we use to view sexual harassment, diversity, gender and sexuality. The stories sound familiar and every day and describe a phenomenon prevalent in our context and raise questions around ethical dilemmas. While the book focuses on corporates, the questions that the authors raise are more universal—the role of structure, laws, friends, bystanders, leadership in understanding the dynamics of power, the dichotomy of espoused values and values in action, understanding boundaries, enabling safe spaces and understanding consent.

Vandana Menon
Director and Principal Consultant, FLAME TAO Knoware Pvt. Ltd

A book that provides a refreshing look into and then much beyond the question of how to make workplaces safe from sexual harassment. The authors take us, with engaging and complex narratives, into a different scenario—the corporate sector in the urban Indian economy. The book could be a valuable resource for organizations wanting to reflect on how to go above and beyond the mandated framework of internal complaints committees and of signed policies that guide professional behaviour. It asks important questions about how we can build resilient and fulfilling work relationships within highly diverse organizations, where shifts in the normal expectations of gender are happening fast. It highlights the value of open conversations rather than only a rule-based culture around these issues. It looks at the roles and decisions of those affected by a difficult, ‘inappropriate’ or predatory relationship. It also looks at the impact of the ‘bystanders’ whose reactions, often gossip, have an important role in setting organizational culture. Although the case studies are more relevant to cultures in India, the questions raised by the case studies and by your analysis in the book would be of interest here, in Europe and the USA too. The questions have implications for people from different nationalities working together and trying to develop working relationships across very different cultures. I would highly recommend reading and using the book to those in HR and leadership roles, as well as others who are simply interested in the future of inclusive, fair and fulfilling workplaces. 

Ginny Baumann
Senior Program Manager, International Development and Human Rights, UK

This book will count as a significant addition to a collection on understanding sexual harassment at the workplace. It is premised on viewing organizations as human collectives that engender relationships rather than as mere vehicles of performance translating vision and goals into reality. It brings alive the dynamics and fluidity of relationships, the inherent power inequities that operate beneath and set the stage for many a case of sexual harassment at the workplace. Internal mechanisms including legally mandated committees have limitations and often are manned by people ill-trained for this purpose. The authors lay emphasis on regular intra-organization dialogue and openness to bring up issues and deal with infringements as means to foster a shared understanding and acceptance of workplace behaviours, besides becoming a key element of culture shaping. It is an eminently readable book and will serve as reference material for workshops on gender relations and the role of power, hierarchy, consent and culture in shaping notions of what conduct is appropriate, what is violation or harassment and how to engage with issues that arise from the relationships amongst sexes.

K. S. Narendran
Co-Founder and Director, Reflexive Lenses Consulting Pvt. Ltd

Power, Sexuality and Gender Dynamics at Work describes how power dynamics weave its way into our professional lives. It is equally fearsome and fascinating to explore the multiple ways in which internal corporate systems allow and therefore encourage some individuals to insidiously exercise their power using and abusing the values inherent to the companies they work for. Beyond the thoroughness in the description of scenes and the gallery of portraits, Uma Chatterjee and Roop Sen allow us to see the meandering of workplaces when the collective unconscious becomes permeable and shows the individual’s experiences with cultural and family dysfunctions in relation to gender dynamics. Mindful of keeping the balance between power and assertiveness, the authors encourage us to think through the characters’ own questioning and from the perspectives of both, the one who has the power and the one who perceives the shadows of the abuse. This insightful book is largely evocative of stakes too often present in working environment beyond cultural identities, in Europe as much as in India.

Karine Le Roch
PhD in Clinical Psychology

The book touches upon many intersections of polarization in society today, between man and woman, masculinity and femininity, work and life, body and mind, local and global, victim and perpetrator, power and love, reality and ideology, and many more.

It unfolds our personal and collective dilemma, and makes it possible to deconstruct complex issues and therefore work them through. It encourages readers to look at the issues, discuss them and makes it a door that leads to deepen understanding.

It peels off masks of ‘professionalism’, ‘appropriateness’, ‘political correctness’, ‘gender neutrality’ and ‘activism’, and guides the readers to listen to true, real, authentic voices beneath the carpet, which will be the path to hope of inclusivity.

This book treats case studies systemically and not individually, which guides the reader to learn that the issue is influenced by the complexity of generations, cultures, social psyche and the history of the organization.

Throughout the book, there are spaces for all, including inconvenient truths. The authors have walked the talk with what they have written.

Yuri Morikawa
Executive Coach; Organization Development Professional; and Founder, Global Sensation

Both Chatterjee and Sen have been very keen observers of culture, gender and power relations that are shaping women’s experience of their workplaces. They have a natural ability to think critically and unstitch the existing concepts around issues of discrimination and exclusion based on unreasonable biases at workplaces. Having listened closely to women’s vulnerabilities as part of their active careers in the development sector, they have experience in helping women navigate out of fear of power through negotiation and leadership. I would have also thought that having been closely associated with injustices towards vulnerable women for most of their lives, their natural sympathies will show bias towards women but I was wrong.

Naghma Mulla
Chief Operating Officer, EdelGive Foundation

A book that makes you sit up, look around you (yes, getting taken aback is to be expected, thank Roop!) and understand the enormity of the dynamics of sex, gender, sexuality and power in the workplace. Undergirding these are the menacing tones of violence and violation. Roop is simultaneously forthright and provocative, yet beautifully holds out hope that firmly eschews tokenistic lure but is authentic and substantive. To touch this treasure of hope, this beckoning is to go farther and deeper than ‘check-the-box’ versions of diversity and inclusion practices and to look the societal and institutional codings and structures right in the eye. The book does something unusual for readers, it offers us a dare! Read it, and I beseech you, take up the dare and help shape the context as it emerges.

Kartikeyan V
Founder Trustee, Institution for Wholeness & Integration (IWI); Author of Discover the Alchemist Within—Taking the First Step Towards Personal Growth; and Co-Architect of the Transformative Alignment Map (TAM©)

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ISBN: 9789353886622

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