safe & inclusive workspaces: how gender-sensitising kids will change future work dynamics

India is struggling with gender sensitising her citizens today. We grow up in a society where men have more rights. Things may be changing today, but the change is rather slow.

Many corporate organisations today want more diversity and inclusion, yet they are struggling to manage that. After all, how many women do we see in senior positions in most businesses and corporates around us? To tackle this, we need to sensitise men and women - that's where the problem lies, and it is a problem that is best tackled early.

Rainmaker is a Corporate Training Programme that has provided gender sensitisation programmes to over a lakh employees in several corporate organisations and MNCs across India. Here’s what Sanjay Jagtiani, (Senior VP of Corporate Solutions, Rainmaker), had to say about the need for gender sensitisation in India.

Is the workplace an equal playing ground for both genders?

Back at one of our corporate training sessions, the organisation had a sales team. The management and the teams believed that the men performed better. We decided to look at the situation more carefully.

It turned out that women were putting in nine hours of work, while men were putting in twelve hours. This was attributed to the fact that women had families and children to look after. A question then presents itself: Is this an equal playing ground?

We did the math and concluded that if men and women both were putting in same amount of hours at work, their performance would be at par.

This assumption was because of an inherent gender bias. This kind of discrimination can only be tackled through awareness, and gender sensitisation workshops which are most effective when started at an early age.

The youngest minds are the easiest to mould

To tackle the issue of workplace harassment and bias, one has to first look at the years of exposure our young men and women have to gender bias. Our society is biased, our families are rooted in patriarchal norms, our education barely fares any better. If people have to change, the change has to begin from the grassroots - and one space that can be easily influenced through policies and interventions are the schools.

In addition, school authorities, teachers and parents need to be sensitised. Simple things like the segregation of the kids’ seating arrangements in school leaves them with a feeling of disparity. They need to understand that eventually, the world is for both genders.

The habits, attitudes and perceptions children pick up in school stay with them. Once they have been conditioned, it's hard to break their mindsets. It becomes difficult to break these attitudes once they’ve been firmly set.

For example, we had different sports for girls and boys in my school; the more physically intense ones were for boys. Girls weren’t even allowed to play cricket, and had to opt for other classes, like dancing or performing arts.

This also affects career choices later. The stereotypes they see, the subjects they see divided among boys and girls, later impacts them and their decisions and life choices. The message of equality, empowerment, and respect for all genders must come to them right from an early age. Only then will we see equal and fair opportunities, respect for all genders and more inclusive and diverse workspaces, with healthy attitudes and no room for discrimination.

We have to move now to make gender sensitisation a non-negotiable reality in India. If our society and our workplaces have to be safe, we have to make sure that our children are getting gender sensitised, and are learning to respect all genders.

Join Tata Tea to make this change happen by signing the petition to make gender sensitisation programmes compulsory in schools. Click on this link or call 7815966666 (toll free) to register your petition.

Alarm Bajne Se Pehle Jaago Re!

More on the Expert:

Sanjay Jagtiani

Sanjay Jagtiani is the Senior Vice President of Corporate Solutions at Rainmaker. Rainmaker is a corporate training programme on gender-sensitisation and anti-sexual harassment. They are associated with various educational institutions, Indian and MNC corporates, and NGOs.

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