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Does It Take Two Hands To Clap?

Consider these scenarios.

Beena recently joined a company and works as a process analyst. Her team comprises a mix of men and women and she notices that the men in the team often want to meet up in the evenings to ‘bond’. Since Beena has a two year old child she prefers spending quality time with her family in the evenings. She did mention it a couple of times in team meetings that the timings didn’t suit her but the team ignored her views since she was the only one with an ‘issue’. She has resigned to her ‘fate’ and decided to let the men have it their way. It however concerns her that not joining her team for the evening sessions can slowly build a perception that she isn’t a ‘team player’.

Tina works as a consultant and is in her second year with her organization. She recently rolled off a project and applied to another one which directly engages with a global brand in the US. It expects working in shifts that extends beyond 8pm in the evening. During the staffing interview and her meetings with the project leader she is dissuaded from joining due to the shift timing and the team’s past experience of having to ‘stretch’. Tina is unmarried and doesn’t feel it an issue to work late hours since she enjoys the opportunity to work with a global client. Tina is dismayed by the repeated pushbacks she is getting and is contemplating moving out of the organization.

Manesh is the project lead for a large engineering firm and is seeking professionals from within the company to join his team. Tanya, a high performer in the quality control team is keen to join Manesh’s team. She applies for the position and discloses that she is 4 months pregnant and expecting her first child. Manesh is hesitant to give Tanya a role since he is concerned that she may go on maternity leave shortly and it can impact the project. He faults on her technical knowledge and rejects her application.

How would you intervene on such cases and what would you do to tackle them? Are the above situations relevant for communicators? In what way? Look forward to your responses.

It isn’t a coincidence anymore. Every time I attend an event related to women, diversity or inclusion the lead speaker or the master of ceremonies invariably notes how few or more men are present in the room.

Why is it always about the presence and participation of men that makes these topics relevant?

While you reflect on your responses here are some perspectives to mull over.

  • With Indian women entering the workforce decreasing to 29% in 2012 the country now has among the lowest rates in the world. There is however urgency to have women included on boards across companies based on a directive from the country’s regulatory authority.
  • Indian men, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)study have an unenviable record of doing about 19 minutes of unpaid work (housework and child care) as compared to Norwegian men who topped the list with 180 minutes. Women in India and Turkeyincidentally work the most, if not the hardest.
  • The widening employment gap between men and women at the workplace is one of the reasons for organizational tension and stereotyping which can be overcome if communicators identify issues and surface stories that reinforce an inclusive work culture.

Even if you don’t have a point of view, your presence indicates your willingness to listen and engage in a dialogue. Does it take two hands to clap? Keen to hear your views.

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