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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

C-Suite Advisory

How to Make the Workplace Safe for Women

There are many inequalities in the world. Despite the amount of progress we have made throughout history, some inequalities still exist to this day and can happen anywhere, even in the workplace. Unfortunately, women are often victims of these inequalities. Women from around the world and from all walks of life face all kinds of untoward gestures and acts on a daily basis. It is no surprise that more and more women are lobbying to make the workplace a safer space for them.

What Makes a Space Unsafe for Women?

Working in an office you don’t consider a safe space can take a huge toll on your well-being. Here are the most common issues women deal with at work, and how to address them:

Gossip

Gossiping can seem harmless to many. After all, as long as the person you are gossiping about doesn’t know about it, it’s OK, right? That’s not the case. Nothing good ever comes out of gossiping: not only does it waste time it also ruins morale and breeds a toxic environment. Gossip can and will affect other people’s perceptions of the subject, causing her to feel uneasy about her place in the office. Safe spaces for women are places where she can feel the most comfortable, and gossip can ruin this for her.

The last thing you would want to do is participate in any kind of gossiping, as doing so will just worsen the gossip culture further. You should also refrain from divulging too much information about yourself to other officemates until you have built a safe level of trust. You may also review company policy to see what you can do to stop this culture from spreading.

Sexual Harassment

When you talk about unsafe spaces for women, the first thing that comes to mind is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment at work can happen in verbal, visual, or physical ways. There are horror stories from all over the world about how people in high places abuse their power and commit acts of sexual misconduct toward their employees.

In this era of the #MeToo movement, we have seen that it doesn’t matter if you are in a multi-million company or family-owned business, rich or poor, famous or ordinary, man or woman; sexual harassment can happen to anyone. And as a result, you may see the employee’s quality of work and well-being decline the more she is subjected to this kind of behavior.

To handle sexual harassment in the workplace, you must first need to determine whether the conduct displayed is sexual harassment. Is it unwelcome? Offensive? Recurring? If you are absolutely certain that the action done to you is sexual harassment, you should immediately report it to the HR department and your supervisors. Sometimes the complaint is handled then and there without having to go to court. If you are denied of this outcome, however, you may want to hire a sexual harassment attorney to assist you throughout the legal process.

Bullying

Bullying is one of the main reasons behind a decline in morale and performance. Yes, bullying goes way beyond the premises of a school. It affects people of all ages and occurs in many kinds of social settings. Bullying is any form of verbal or even physical act that could damage an employee’s mental and emotional state. This usually involves repeated incidents that are intended to intimidate or humiliate an individual. Many workers find themselves doing this as a means of asserting their power through aggression. This is most definitely not ideal and should not be tolerated at all.

Unlike harassment, bullying is not illegal so getting one’s self out of such a situation is more complicated. The first thing you will want to do is to speak up to whoever is bullying you or a coworker and explain why what he or she is doing is wrong. Perhaps that person isn’t aware of how much his or her act affects the victim. Use a firm but professional tone. It’s really helpful to stop bullying in its tracks while it’s early because once a power imbalance is cemented, it is difficult to reverse. If the bully doesn’t budge, you can always talk to your boss. Unless your boss is the bully, in which case, you need to seek an audience with your HR. There may be company policies that could help you overcome this situation.

Employment Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace continues to persist despite employment and labor laws protecting the rights of employees at work. Workplace discrimination can take on many forms, namely racial, age, racial, disability, religious, pregnancy, and gender discrimination. Women are often faced with the stress of asserting their place at work and proving their worth because those with power view them as inferior and less capable. This perception usually manifests in how female employees are treated at work. Some telltale signs include a lack of diversity, denied promotions for women, demeaning or alienating communication, and so on.

As with the other workplace issues mentioned above, it’s highly advisable that you consult your company handbook first to find out what the procedure is for this type of offense. If you have a supervisorial role in the office or higher, be sure to not play favorites, educate yourself and your employees, keep your personal beliefs to yourself, and think about everything you say thoroughly.

The Road to Women’s Safety 

Women are as much a part of our society and as capable as men are, but sometimes, they get the short end of the stick when it comes to employment. The first step toward any semblance of equality is to educate people. If you are experiencing these difficulties in your place of work, know your rights and take the necessary steps to improve your situation. If none of these work and your situation worsens, it would be best to pack up and find a new job. And before you accept an offer, make sure to research the company’s culture and policies surrounding gender equality and discrimination.


Have you read?

# Global Passport Ranking, 2019.
# The World’s Top 100 Most Successful Unicorns, 2019.
# GDP Rankings Of The World’s Largest Economies, 2019.
# Most Expensive Countries In The World To Live In, 2019.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the CEOWORLD magazine.
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Anna Papadopoulos
Editor, writer, teacher, consultant. Advocate for plain language, journalism, free speech, and tolerance. Feminist. Based in Sydney, Australia.
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