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1ST OCTOBER, 2018

SHARP - Bringing Sexual Harassment into Focus

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We recognise that sexual harassment is an issue in the workplace that will not stop on its own, the Sexual Harassment Reporting and Prevention program, SHARP, initiated by our African operations, has been established to encourage everyone to have a voice, and focuses on developing a reporting framework across a variety of channels in order to combat these issues.

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SHARP week has taken bold steps to create awareness of our revised Sexual Harassment policy, aiming to empower employees through provision of relevant information.

“I have gained confidence in my employer, thanks to SHARP information shared today.”

Diana Cherotich, Weighbridge Clerk, Chemomi Estate, Eastern Produce Kenya

Policies supporting the SHARP program outline the importance of communication, while community initiatives help to deflate shame around the subject.

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We understand that effective training cannot occur in a vacuum but requires a holistic culture of non-harassment that starts at the top. Both managers and employees are our resource to prevent and stop sexual harassment, all are encouraged to take an active role.

During the week, EPK brought together SHARP Champions to coordinate activities at each of our estates. Football tournaments dubbed SHARP Diversity Premier Leagues, were held at 12 estates. Each team comprised of 5 women 6 men. The aim was to make it truly a game of 2 halves, by putting a spotlight on SDG number 5 and aligning SHARP week to our Gender Program.

“Zero tolerance is what we know and what we speak…” 

explains Maurice Ngetich, GM West Operations, Eastern Produce Kenya.

“At EPK we encourage all employees by sharing information that gives confidence to speak up against sexual harassment.”

affirms Ruth, COU Operator, Eastern Produce Kenya.

At Kakuzi, each employee has been provided with a wrist band with contacts enabling them to raise concerns and report problems via WhatsApp or text message. This is one of the tools to intervene when one witnesses or experiences harassing behavior.

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At EPM, community groups have been set up in all our estates to encourage communication between workers, and to ensure day to day issues are reported to management. Community leaders are elected locally, and topics such as harassment are discussed in closed groups, or one on one with members of the same gender. Community groups form an important part of the Diversity, Inclusion and Women’s Welfare policy, with Women Welfare Committees (WWCs), winning EPM a Gold Social Sustainability Award from the Tea Association of the USA in 2017.

It is the entire community that benefits when sexual harassment in the workplace is curbed. Simon Odhiambo, General Manager Corporate Affairs for our African operations, often refers to gender issues as “societal issues,” explaining that “it is unhelpful to take a binary view when the entire community is affected.” Studies demonstrate that a working culture which fosters inclusion and diversity, especially at management level, benefits the business and the welfare of all employees.

The SHARP campaign sends a clear message:

“We should not and will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment in the workplace.”

Tom Franks, CEO, Camellia.