Empowering women at work

Published: 13th May 2013 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th May 2013 10:04 AM   |  A+A-

Sometimes, women face discrimination at their workplace — they are sidelined for promotions or salary hikes, face strong resentment from bosses and do not get adequate support from colleagues.

Some of the common comments that are heard at offices are:

“Hey, you anyway come from an affluent family. How does it matter if you earn money or not, and whether you get promotion or not?”

“Investing in training a woman is actually a waste since they will eventually get married and leave.”

“Since most women earn only to support the family’s income after marriage, the pay hikes can be moderate.”

“We have to be doubly careful to about sending somebody on a project abroad after marriage because of the possibility of them taking maternity leave.”

The reality

It has been proven that women can handle broad-based roles and multi-task more proficiently than men. This gender bias is not restricted to India. Research has proved that gender harassment at workplace is a universal phenomenon. We tend to believe that gender harassment is only sexual harassment but it is only one form of harassment.

Many women do not know how to deal with it. Organisations may have different gender related policies. Research shows that women employers are paid less, aren’t offered proper pay hikes, and many are asked to work for a lesser amount after they come back from a break. Employers sometimes use maternity, child care, etc, as negotiation tools.

How do you tackle this?

Issues like this can be taken to the human resource cell and explained with examples of unfair treatment. The responsibility falls on the HR to deal with them directly, escalate and discuss the issue with the management. Women don’t have to succumb to this pressure.

They should also learn to appropriately respond to irresponsible statements emerging from bosses and coworkers. One can be diplomatically and professionally assertive, instead of being rude or scornful. Otherwise, comments will continue to be passed. They need to believe in themselves and the role they play in the organisation. Taking charge of such situations and championing their causes in an appropriate manner can lead to empowerment at work.

— kalpana@acl-india.in

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