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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Goddess in Us

The nation is worshipping Shakti- Goddess Durga this month. We worship women, regard them as Shakti, Laxmi, Saraswati.
Does the sentiment towards women end there or is that a beginning for something else?
We are talking of Gender bias, Gender Equality, Gender Empowerment, Equal opportunity irrespective of Gender. In true sense, what is the kind of equality are women looking at? Is it just equal opportunity and other corporate-ish terms but is there more it?
Is woman-friendly the word we are looking at, without giving extra advantage to women over men?
If I am asked in an interview whether I will quit after marriage or baby or whether I will move city if my husband moves, would I be pissed off at the interview stage itself with the company? Is it such a big deal? Why ask such obvious questions? Would they ask a man- if you get a better opportunity would you move on? As a woman, getting married and moving on to a different city with a scope of a better job might be a better opportunity in totality. Or once I have a baby, a work from home option or a company with flexi timing may be as good as a better opprtunity. Where as, to a man a better opportunity may be function of money, position, career growth only rather than all of the above. I have known women to reject grooms on grounds of they being stationed in locations where they cannot continue with their careers- miniscule numbers, but such women do exist.
Let's face it. Today nobody is looking at retiring from the same company where they started their careers. Having a man as a potential candidate for a position does not ensure that the vacancy will not crop again within a short period since the man will not quit due to marriage or childbirth. Moreover, if you as an organisation have decided to interview a candidate for the position, you better be prepared for the so called pitfalls of hiring a woman.

Weekend Fodder-
If you were the HR or even otherwise- what would you like to change in terms of your organisation to make it more woman friendly without giving women an unfair advantage over men? What is it that will be a selling point for the company in terms of women friendliness- policy, facility, infrastructure, anything, so that you will feel like accepting that job? What puts you off most in a woman unfriendly organisation?

11 comments:

aargee said...

In france, women are not paid equally like men since they are given 3 - 6 months maternal leave and as far as I know they don't even work throughout the week. They have 4 days a week or the working hours per day are restricted. These sound good. Though the pay is less, they have options. Anyway as I have never worked, I don't think I can give better suggestions...but if the office can reimburse the money for day care, I think that will be more helpful and there would be more women going for it. Also 3 months maternal leave should be increased..or else working from home should be adopted. We can think of arranging for a small creche close to office.;but that is all next to impossible. No one will go over board just to have women to work, esp. in a place like India where they can find lot of men to work.

The Kid said...

in the US, it is illegal to ask marital status during interview.

Kalpana said...

politics........let it be either gender.....An employee must be recognized based on their worth, not on the way they act.....

Something to Say said...

We might go blue int he face denying it - but the bias does exist. The reason why its so strongly etched in India - is becoz the woman is expected to bow/capitulate when the situation demands. Child is sick - guess who has to take the day off. From what I've seen in the US - a parent is a parent - male or female. And my 2 cents is - most organizations will be benevolent as long as you dont take advantage of their policies.

Something to Say said...

ooo forgot to add - when i used to look for a junior - I would look for a female - for I always found them to be more honest, sincere and hard working.
And yes, thanks a ton for the award... ermmm how do I get the badge up on my blog??

Lavs said...

My thoughts on your question:

Include women policy makers- Most of the company rules are formed by men who have no idea about the trouble which a woman undergoes. Unsafe roads, unsafe environment even within office (remember those Bangalore call centre murders?) should be taken into consideration while framing policies.

For eg: my previous organization provided transport for people who worked after 11pm. But then there was no co-coordinator to handle disagreements on the floor. Being an odd time, no one from HR was available to register a complaint.

What puts me off in an organization is the attitude shown by team members (who do not know to respect women). There are now rules for sexual harassment but what about complaint boards for gender bias shown so blatantly by some male managers?? Promotions are given based on married years; (3 years and no kid yet, she must be planning a family now-lets skip her for promotion this year), hello-what about the hard work I put in for the last one year? Why does that go down the drain??

Our society is biased towards males- As long as that does not change, companies (which also form a part of them) continue to have “women-un friendly” environment.

How do we know said...

Great Post Itchie!

I would strongly recommend a creche in office - simply bcs it helps both male and femal colleagues. Other than that, i would def. need flexi hours - again, for both genders.

If a lady is traveling on office work, i would insist, as a policy, on transport being arranged end to end, even if it is not at an odd hour - you never know how insane flight schedules can get. The same courtesy should be extended to a male employee on request.

Anonymous said...

I love this post... There is so much of bias in all the so-called MNC's...
My previous company was nice that way - we had flexi working hours, option of working from home was always there and we were never questioned when we wanted to or had to work from home...
Bu, in my present organization, I have been passed up for promotion, and an onsite assignment just because I am married... It's sad really.
Women need to be involved when the policies are made and make sure that they are advantageous, but not over the mark when it comes to Women in an organization...

Itchingtowrite said...

great responses- very comprehensive.. if one's organisation is understanding and humane, an employee feels like coming and working from the heart-infact i guess according to factory act, if there are more than 30 females, an organisation is supposed to provide creche. infact there are some jobs for which employers look for women specifically for their aptitutde/ attitude, and it is believed that they don't jump jobs too frequently unless there is marrge... there are few CEO's who go out of their way to empower women, but moe often than not the top brass are usually men- by default or design, I am not sure but women are expected to prove themselves worthy of the post whereas men get it on a bargain. Most people hold maternity leave against wonmen saying that it is good fun to get a break, but they don't realise that it is not a break that we women are taking but a 24 hour new job without preveios experience in most cases and a job w=in which u hav to perform from day 0 inspite of the hard work done for 9 months beforhand.

Just Like That said...

I think...
no. 1. - the inclusion of a creche/daycare facility within office premises or close by. That would take a load off the minds of working mothers who go mad hunting for a workable option. Even if late work crops up, you don't have to worry about getting early home to relieve the maid.
no. 2. - ensure that working hours are adhered to as much as posible. Get rid of this perception that you're working only if you're staying back late. @#$%%!! So why don't the men ever come in early in the morning to finish work, huh? Then too, office is quiet and interuption free, and you can use the working hours to go out on meetings. All thes are excuses and most of the time, office hours are spent gupshupping and smoking by the late night workers. They get my goat honestly, they do.
And yeah, a woman policy maker would be fine too, like somebody else mentioned.

lumi said...

A workplace should be family friendly to both women AND men. Thankfully in the US it's illegal to ask such questions about marriage or family plans or anything of the sort. It's still behind in someways in regards to maternity leave being 6 weeks and not required to be paid-but at least both men and women get it. In this day in age all companies would benefit from offering flexible schedules, job shares, opportunity to work from home a day or two, etc. In short I think we need to look at it as a human issue not just a gender issue.