Globally, women have always been the oppressed sex, often on the basis of physical strength, emotional inclination or preconceived gender roles. During the 1960s, the women’s lib movement in developed countries like the US and UK saw a definitive thrust in the direction of gender equality and the rise of feminism. Women in homes, factories and offices grew into stronger roles and made it clear that they are not weak. Can the organizations of today progress further in becoming women-friendly?
Here are a few steps companies can take to welcome women employees:
1. A target gender ratio is a common starting point for companies across sectors. Some industries may have a higher ratio than others but there should be a stated aim that a certain percentage of employees of the workforce should be female.
2. However, recruitment is not the core aim. Equal treatment of all employees should be an inherent objective as well. With women in the workforce, it is essential to have basic amenities like separate restrooms for women and well-equipped medical facilities that suit women’s needs.
3. Safety of women employees should be a high priority. Nowadays, women also work late or work in night/graveyard shifts. They entrust the company with their safety and wellbeing and the company must reciprocate with appropriate measures like adequate security staff, surveillance and security within and around the office premises. Places that require long/late hours from employees can also provide shuttle transport for their personnel.
4. Organisations must modify or introduce policies that are oriented to women. With the instances of harassment in the workplace increasing, companies are forming sexual harassment committees to ensure there is zero tolerance towards any such misdemeanour. Female employees should be given assurance that misbehaviour by any colleague, especially of this sort, will be dealt with strictly.
5. Apart from this, other policies like increased maternity leave for new and adoptive mothers also help women acclimatise to the dual responsibilities they take on after motherhood, whether natural or through adoption. In fact, for families where both spouses are working, a lenient paternity leave is as helpful for the mother as it is to the new father.
6. India is a country that sees a large percentage of its able female workforce drop out of work after marriage or having a baby. In fact, studies find that a large percentage of women leave because of workplace problems like frustration and long hours. Organisations should introduce well-planned rejoining programmes that help women reorient themselves to the demands of corporate life.
7. Women-friendly organisations display this affinity to female colleagues in the daily course of work. They do not make women feel guilty about taking leaves because of duties outside of work and rather encourage them to balance work and home. It is a common grouse of female employees that they experience strong gender bias even when it comes to assignment of critical projects, budgets and subsequently promotions and pay hikes. There should be no glass ceiling for women who display the same amount of ambition, zeal and productivity as their male colleagues.
If an employee is performing, they must get what they deserve and not be subject to gender-based discrimination. Organizations must develop training programmes for young women employees to groom them into better managers and future leaders. They cannot be left out of decision-making simply because they are women and are considered any less than their male counterparts.
There are several such measures that organizations today can take in order to ensure that the valuable female workforce is acquired and retained. It must display empathy towards the needs of women and not thrive on patriarchal methods of working.
Employing policies like those mentioned above will retain good talent and ensure fewer dropouts after marriage and motherhood. Ultimately, such organizations not just become women-friendly but are more sensitive to other genders, cultures and practices as well.