Assumptions Of A Kind

Business presentation

Client: A Software Services firm in India

An exponentially growing IT company based out of Bangalore with a headcount of approximately 400 people, majority of them being first time employees, just out of college was going through the following challenges:

  • Certain employees assigned to critical projects, as a trend did not stay back during crucial times that required for them to stretch beyond regular office hours. This impacted the overall project timelines and quality
  • There were increasing reports of male employees making snide and discriminatory remarks about female employees directly and indirectly
  • Complaints of sexual harassment were on the rise

A study was done to understand the trends in the first point above and it was observed that a majority of employees who did not stay back turned out to be women. After further research by way of focused group discussions and interviews it was found that managers refrained from asking women employees to stay back after office hours, especially those who were married. There were many women employees who were surprised why their managers did not request them to stay back at work, even during times that the project needed their efforts and support. On further discussions, it was found that managers assumed that women would not prefer to stay back due to their family commitments. There was also a standard assumption that girls would not prefer to stay after dark due to safety reasons. This stereotyping, coupled with the lack of assertion from the women employees impacted the project timelines and in turn the performance review discussions of the concerned employees

An analysis was done on all the other areas of concern and the following steps were implemented

  • A sensitivity session was conducted for managers
  • There was tea time tete –a –tete sessions between managers and women employees to build mutual understanding and sensitivity
  • Assertive Skills workshops were conducted and on the job opportunities were identified and action plans drawn out
  • An org wide sensitivity exercise was taken up for men which included gender sensitivity workshops, training, diversity projects, etc.
  • A sexual harassment committee that existed more on paper was activated with full participation based on the Vishaka guidelines

There was a marked change in the behavior of managers. Male and female colleagues worked more cohesively and with mutual respect. There was greater understanding about gender differences among the young male population and there were lesser instances of unwarranted remarks/ comments on women employees

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