The 100th International Women’s Day will be celebrated all over the world tomorrow i.e. 8th March 2011. It is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebration ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements.
Sometimes actually it hurts a lot to think that why just one day to the person who makes things special for us, be it the relation of a mother, a sister, a wife or daughter or a Manager… they care, they nurture and they provide the balance in our lives.
No, I’m not being a feminist, yes I’m in all my senses but then I’m not writing to make you men feel any less important.
The agenda today is to give a special tribute to women by at least acknowledging some problems they come across while they are at work and what as HR professionals we can do to contribute towards their safety, security and prosperity in our respective companies.
Here we go:
# Harassment – It can be in any form, physical, mental or sexual and we cannot ignore it as it is the number one priority to make them safe from any kind of harassment they come across while at work. Many women throughout India, leave their jobs because of harassment they come across in their organization, be it from a colleague, a boss or a subordinate, the only resort they are left with is change of job.
# Security: Actually harassment and security are interconnected, if you as the employer do not provide them security then harassment is bound to happen. Not many women would like their spouse, boy friends or family members to accompany them while commuting specially the ones who work in graveyard shifts or come back home late. The employer is oblivious of the factor that some places are not safe for women in India, so they do not take the responsibility of their safety and security, in fact some of them even discourage the recruitment of women.
# Glass Ceiling: Though it may not come across as a major problem to most, but it is a very serious issue for a woman who wants to make her career and is ambitious. Most of the time due to their maternity break, or marriage or any such family issues female have to take a backseat at the workplace also. As a 6 month break during maternity can take away their chance of a promotion, hike in salary or various other benefits and so on and so forth.
# Discrimination: Oh yes, this is also a concern, mostly the discrimination comes on the grounds…that females may not be able to travel, their marriage, their maternity break, their ability to lead a specific team, a stereo typed approach that females are suitable for some specific jobs etc. Some times even with the same experience and expertise they are paid less salary without being given a reason.
As HR professionals we can support them in many ways…
- Harassment policies: Have a clear cut harassment policy, commencing of each and every kind of harassment females can come across. And yes, the harassment policy is equally important for both men and women as there are cases where men are also the victim. The idea here is to have a policy which states all the guidelines and can invoke trust in the employees.
- Break the glass ceiling, have an equal opportunity policy for both men and women. What if a female takes a break for 3 months or 6 months, do they need to give away their promotion just because they are blessed with the most precious gift of God. No, the answer lies in your performance appraisal policy that needs to be defined and should deal with cases like this.
- No discrimination, no stereo type approach of deciding their future. If you are a boss then you should be more passionate to work with a female colleague as you can learn many things from her and similarly she can learn things from men. Do not perceive unless she herself tells you about her not being able to travel, or handle a team. Some times perception may kill some one’s chances of growth.
- Safety and security policy in place: Yes, we all have it, but the question is how good it is for your female staff. Do they still travel alone with a driver at night, or they are not picked up from home after 9 pm. Does a guard accompany them at night? These are just some of the issues which can be resolved if we believe in the equal opportunity policy.
If you have all these remedies make sure you gift them by making these policies work as per the requirements of your female staff and contribute to their freedom today.