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Posted at: May 15, 2019, 9:50 AM; last updated: May 15, 2019, 9:50 AM (IST)

Defeat gender bias

Discrimination is not limited to one gender

  • Gender discrimination for many can be synonymous with discrimination against women only without realising the behaviour can also be directed towards men. A lot of toxic discrimination against men in workplaces goes unnoticed and requires extra efforts from all the stakeholders in a workplace to expel any such notions.
Defeat gender bias

Jappreet Sethi

We live in a day and age where awareness about gender equality is higher than ever before. However, the same may not be reflected everywhere as some of the gender bias can be so deeply entrenched that it may be difficult to recognise it in the first place. Your office may be one of these places. Coping with issues of gender discrimination has become more common than ever for HR departments. Here are some things to keep in mind to  avoid such issues and for creating a gender-equal workplace: 

Environment of equal opportunities

This is one thing that is easier said than done. Getting out of the rut of practices that may be contributing to a culture of gender bias takes time and  needs a lot of efforts. HR managers have to work to create policies that are fair and conduct programmes that foster gender equality. For example, revising old policies regarding maternity leave, that make the experience of motherhood for female employees a tough one should be the first one to begin with. And at the same time the introduction of equal number of paternity leaves is also paramount.  But more importantly, there is also a need for putting clear policies about gender discrimination in place, that need to be routinely updated. Doing away with gender bias also requires the workforce to be educated in such matters.  Conducting regular workshops and open forums are a great way to begin within fostering ideas of gender equality. 

While policies and education in this matter is important, there is also a need for healthy networking among the staff for bolstering workplace gender equality.  Social gatherings and programmes also help in removing gender barriers to a large extent by helping employees  interact and understand each other well.

Setting a system in place  

Creating a system for addressing any complaints about gender discriminatory behaviour is important, this should be done even before a complaint of such a  nature comes in. This increases the HR department and the company’s readiness and also helps the employees understand that these matters will be taken seriously. The system should ideally involve investigating the matter in fairness to both parties, creating a solution to the grievance, and may also involve firing someone at times.

Make sure that there are multiple people who are assigned the responsibility of receiving complaints of gender discriminatory behaviour to ensure that someone is available at all times.

If you are an employee:

Be careful of what you say to and about a person. Casual sexism should not find a place in your conversations with your work buddies even during friendly after work hours. 

If you ever witness any gender-discriminatory behaviour towards others, don’t let it slide. Be proactive in voicing your opinion against such notions. But, do so in the most non-threatening way.

Actively participate in any workshops, talks or other programs that your organisation conducts to increase awareness about gender discrimination. If you feel any actions of gender bias towards, seek help from the concerned departments to address it timely.

— The writer is an HR & strategy consultant


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