Create A Workplace Where Women Won’t Need Protection

CREATE A WORKPLACE WHERE WOMEN WON’T NEED PROTECTION!
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Kanupriya worked in a mid-size multinational company in Bangalore. She was heading the project management department of the firm. She was one among the most promising young leaders of the company who was known for her high performance and productivity. 

In the next six months, she was eligible for a big promotion. All was going amazingly well for her. 

Around the same time, one fine morning, Bangalore shook up with the news of an IT employee getting raped in her office cab, by the driver. Immediately the government issued a new directive in a knee jerk reaction.

Women employees need to leave work by 8 pm. Their employers cannot ask them to stay beyond 8 pm. If they do, they need to provide special transportation for them.

Based on this directive, a few IT and ITES Companies took the easy route and created a blanket rule. 

Women must leave work by 8 pm latest. If they needed to stay back, they required special permission from their manager and HR. 

Kanupriya’s company was one among them to embrace this rule. 

Kanupriya was mad! 

How could they come up with such silly rules? 

Her overseas projects demanded late evening calls, and she was needed in the office to complete clients’ requests on time. But her boss refused to extend her office timing, neither the HR understood. They were both focusing on following the government directive diligently. 

When Kanupriya raised concerns, her boss called in for a meeting.

Boss: Kanu, your safety is more important to us. You must follow this rule for your own good. 
Kanupriya: Bullshit safety! Here I am aiming for that promotion, and this stupid rule is threatening to ruin all my dreams! Unbelievable!   
HR: Don’t worry, this will not hamper your performance, nor your growth. That’s an assurance.

Even though she hated it, she was forced to leave work early, which naturally hampered her productivity. 

The same organization had boasted about women empowerment and equal opportunities while hiring her. Kanupriya joined this organization, thinking she could easily give wings to her ambitious dreams. Alas, that was not to happen.

The company was giving out confusing messages. One side, they wanted their women leaders to be independent and responsible. On the other side, this new directive was restricting people like Kanupriya from performing their best. 

Kanupriya fell victim to this, and her performance dropped. Also, now that she couldn’t stay longer in the office, the overseas client went to a male manager. Her boss contemplated if she deserved the promotion that was due and decided against it because she couldn’t be given any critical overseas projects because of this new directive. 

Now the question is, whose fault is it because of which Kanupriya’s performance deteriorated? Who is responsible for her missed promotion? 

Lesson from this: 

As an organization, keep your narrative simple, don’t send confusing messages. Don’t get bogged down by the outside pressure. 

CREATE A WORKPLACE WHERE WOMEN WON’T NEED PROTECTION!

They know what’s best for their safety and they will take care of it.  

Your job as an employer is to create a safe and thriving environment where they can perform their best freely, without any added constraints, where they are appreciated for their work, where they don’t get penalized for things that aren’t in their control.

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This is the 1st story in the 100 ways to empower women leader’s series. You can read the other stories here.

Do join the Setback Leaders’ Worldwide Tribe should you wish to stay in close touch with other Setback Leaders from across the world.

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