What is Lacking For Women Safety in Offices And How to Deal With It
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One of the hot topics that organizations of today must pay absolute heed to is the safety of women at workplaces. There have been several regulations and guidelines in place for organizations to ensure women safety and inclusivity and yet, it continues to be a slippery slope for the present-day organizations.
Even when everything seems to be progressing normally at one instance, in the very next there could be a female worker blowing the covers of the hollow and ineffectual safety policies at workplaces, followed by a slew of similar such narratives. The discussions that ensue are often short-lived, failing to bring about any substantial changes. From offering equal opportunities and pay, to ensuring a safe environment and commute to and from workplaces, the issue warrants organizations to have in place certain institutional changes. To the same end, here’s discussing how workplaces can be made safer and more inclusive for its female co-inhabitants.
Making safety a priority
Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013, companies need to have a policy and redressal committee in place. However, organizations have a responsibility to ensure that this is not merely a check-box ticked and instead, is actually effective in extending an open, safe and inclusive environment to the female workforce.
Top management needs to enthusiastically be committed to take up the cause and make safety a priority. When operating in such a competitive and cut-throat environment, organizations may tend to prioritize productivity and efficiency over inclusivity and safety. This would discourage women employees from voicing their concerns, for the risk of compromising productive hours or disrupting a smooth flow of operations etc. However, if the top management leads with example and displays their commitment towards making security a priority through their conduct, the same would inspire women employees to come forward, voice their issues without delays and seek redressal.
Training & Workshops
Companies of today must take the onus of ensuring safe and gender-sensitive workplaces. Since the issue has so many multiple layers, one may not expect everyone to have a nuanced understanding of the same. To the same end, organizations may have to host various gender sensitization workshops. This may include sensitizing employees on workplace harassment, discrimination; getting them acquainted with the best practices and safety protocols that are in place.
Making it safe for all to burn the midnight oil
The present-day work environment is continually changing. While several multi-national companies are setting bases in the Indian peninsula, various home-grown brands are branching out to the foreign land. This requires workers, both male and female, to work in different shifts, stay back till the wee hours and coordinate with the international teams.
While the security concerns are minimal for men working after late evening hours, the same might not hold true for their female colleagues. Organizations can ease the strain by having female security guards at key places, arranging for meals, beverages and other essential facilities within the office premises, so that women don’t have to venture out late night. If the work doesn’t require physical presence in office, employees should be allowed to work remotely from the comforts of their homes, without risking their security and safety.
Right usage of technology
In the present times, technology has come to be one of the biggest aids that we have. Organizations can also creatively deploy technology, in order to ensure optimum security and safe commute, especially for the female employees. For instance, installing CCTVs and tracking employee vehicles through GPS are some good ways for organizations to gain deeper visibility and strike a state of constant vigilance.
Organizations providing employee commute services should verify the drivers and conductors, keep track of vehicles, and regularly rotate the shift to weed out any vulnerability. Providing gender-sensitization training and workshops for the staff would also help create an organization-wide inclusive and safe environment.
Beyond the office premises
An organisation’s responsibility does not end with ensuring safety of employees within the office premises. In fact, their moral or legal obligations are also applicable for their daily commute from home to office and back. Even the law of the land asks of a few compliances, especially commute of female employees during late hours.
Organizations can seek help from professional organisations that are expert in managing corporate employee transportation solutions, in order to ensure safe commute of their employees. Opting for a trusted and reputed third-party service provider would ensure efficient service with contemporary technology. Furthermore, the organization would be able to benefit from the superior technology, GPS tracking, trained verified drivers and other capabilities of third party players, to ensure optimum commute that is not only safe but time saving and cost efficient as well.
Living by a Zero Tolerance Policy
At the end of day, the entire effort for ensuring women’s safety at workplaces should not be all talk and no action. In addition to training, workshops, and an open dialogue, the organizations need a strong Zero Tolerance Policy in place to curb any instance of workplace harassment. In fact, Zero Tolerance should become one with the code of conduct that employees are expected to live by in the organization.
In a nutshell, when it comes to ensuring inclusivity and safety of women in workplaces, this is merely scratching the tip of an iceberg. However, when followed through with utmost integrity and sincerity, the same would open doors for more such policies and protocols to be instated. At all times, paying heed to what female workers have to say about the workplace environment and ensuring a constant and open dialogue would help organizations ensure optimum inclusivity and safety.