Greenpeace India Apologises To Former Staffer For 'Inadequately' Handling Her Sexual Harassment Complaint

27/02/2015 6:41 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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A Greenpeace activist demonstrates during a 30-hour long protest in New Delhi on November 16, 2013, to demand the release of a group of Greenpeace activists being held in Russia. The so-called 'Arctic 30' were detained when the Russian Coast Guard boarded their Dutch-flagged Greenpeace vessel after several activists scaled a state-owned oil platform on September 18 in a protest. AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN (Photo credit should read RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI — Greenpeace India issued a public apology on Friday after a former staffer alleged that her sexual harassment complaint was dealt with inadequately over two years ago.

Responding to allegations made by a former Greenpeace India employee on social networking site Facebook, the global environment NGO said they had investigated the woman's complaints and found them to be true.

"We have now looked again at what happened and we think she’s right, the complaint was not dealt with according to the high standards we hold ourselves to," said Greenpeace India's spokespersons in a statement they published on their website on Friday. "We just weren’t diligent enough, and for that we owe her an apology."

The former staffer had posted on Facebook recently saying she had filed a sexual harassment complaint with the organisation during her tenure there, but it had not been dealt with properly. The episode took place in December 2012, and the female staffer left the organisation over a year later.

Greenpeace India said in their statement that the NGO was "committed to equality at work" and had reached out to the former female colleague who had filed the complaint at the time. "We are very keen to fully and comprehensively address her complaint," said Greenpeace in their statement. "She deserves both an apology and a meticulous examination of what happened."

The organisation has several women activists in senior positions, and the NGO has a gender specialist in their complaints committee, according to them. Though the organisation claimed to have a functional internal complaints committee as mandated by Vishaka guidelines since 2003, they admitted that their processes failed when dealing with this case.

"Our former colleague was right and we were wrong. We have to hold up our hands and admit that," they said. "We are committed to constantly challenging ourselves and evolving to uphold the highest internal standards. We will do better."

Greenpeace India's public apology is especially important in the backdrop of recent allegations of consistent sexual harassment against the head of another renowned Indian agency working on environment and climate change — TERI. The organisation's head, RK Pachauri, has recently been in the news after a woman employee working for him alleged that he had sexually harassed her for over a year. The woman filed a police case against Pachauri after she claimed she couldn't file an internal complaint within TERI.

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