AT Work Place

SI Team An alumnus of IIM Indore, Anupam is an analytical, innovative, and results-focused professional who has over 15 years experience in creating business value through innovative sales & marketing solutions.

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman,” Margaret Thatcher. Compelling and arguably, prophetic words. I call it prophetic, since, with every passing day, women are striving to make their presence indispensable in every walk of life, more than ever before. Speaking of the corporate world: Are women empowered and equipped with unbiased work environments, to help them scale the heights they deserve?

Consider the following findings from a recent survey launched by Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Indian Women Network(IWN), in association with EY. Responses to the survey came from over 17 states covering multiple sectors like services, manufacturing, IT, pharma, healthcare and education are as follows:

•16 percent of organisations have no women on board level.

•47 percent reported that there are no more than five percent women in senior management roles.

•42 percent respondents said they face managerial bias hindering their professional growth.

•33percent of the female respondents experience different standards of assessment at the same level or while executing similar roles as their male counterparts.

The key to this matter lies in the definition, adoption, and implementation of policies advocating inclusion and diversity at workplace. Part of the solution also lies in holding professionals across levels accountable for implementation of such policies by linking their performance review to inclusion and diversity goals. It is important for woman to feel empowered with equal opportunities, standards of evaluation, and compensation packages as opposed to feeling threatened, devalued, and underpaid. Some of the measures that would help enable this are listed below:

•Professional Development: Allow women to choose areas of professional development which they would like the organization to support them on and provide them training & career opportunities in these areas.

•Mentoring & Guidance:Sensitize professionals to ensure mentorship and guidance to their women subordinates in a congenial, conducive environment.

•Transparency: Provide formal & informal channels of communication for women to voice their concerns without the fear of being reprimanded or victimized.
•Inspire by Example:Showcase success stories of women, particularly of the leadership echelon, to inspire women to strive harder.

•Accommodating Work Policies:Enabling flexible work hours, leave policies, women’s travel facilities to make the work place more productive.

•Workforce Orientation: Training & cultural conditioning to eradicate subconscious bias against women.

•Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment: Last, but certainly not the least, practice a policy of zero tolerance to any incidence of sexual harassment.

I just touched upon the topic of sexual harassment
above. While outlining the factors determining equal opportunities, evaluation and appraisal for women at workplace, sexual harassment is arguably an unavoidable concern. It is an issue not just in India, but in workplaces worldwide. Consider the following findings from a survey by i-sight done in U.S.:

•80 percent of Americans opine that sexual harassment is prevalent in most workplaces. Ironically, only 10 percent believe it is happening in their own office.

•Only 10 percent of victims file a complaint.

•More than 50 percent women respondents indicated
facing sexual advances of which a third stated that it was from men at work

•More than 80 percent of companies have no proper
measures, training or policies to address this concern.

It is important for woman to feel empowered with equal opportunities, standards of evaluation,and compensation packages as opposed to feeling threatened, devalued, and underpaid

Now then, this is not a local issue in India or in U.S.It is pretty much a global phenomenon. The remedy lies in having a multipronged approach of sensitizing employees, encouraging women to come-up for grievance redressaland last but not the least, executing strict actions against the aggressors. It is heartening to see movements like #MeToo going viral on the social media to not only spread awareness about the magnitude of the problem, but also to highlight that irrespective of status or authority, people found guilty of sexual harassment would be brought to task. The movement was focused on sexual harassment at workplace and picked pace in October 2017. There were several incidents reported around the world, including in India, in the wake of this movement.

Legislations and measures from the government are also necessary to address this issue. In U.S., in 2018, 32 states introduced or passed legislation on sexual harassment.

In California, legislation requires that employers provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisory employees and one hour of training to all non-supervisory employees by January 1, 2020. Under New York’s new laws, employers need to conduct annual sexual harassment training for their employees by October 9, 2019. In India, Prevention of Sexual Harassment(POSH), India’s first piece of legislation that specifically dealt with workplace sexual harassment of women, was introduced in 2013. Now, Indian employers are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment by preventing, prohibiting, and redressing sexual harassment.

All said and done, a lot has been done but much more is yet to be done, to achieve empowerment for women at workplace. Hopefully, the coming decade would witness women’s emancipation and progress in an unprecedented manner. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high….,” Rabindranath Tagore.