5 Tips to make your workplace female-friendly
In 2017, the Philippines ranks tenth in the world for gender equity where women are given the opportunity to participate in politics, have multiple seats on company boards, and so on. While it's a drop from the previous year's seventh place ranking, compared to its southeast Asian neighbours, the country is doing a pretty good job (for comparison, Singapore is at 65th, Thailand is at 75th, and Indonesia is at 84th).
But while the country has made headway in women’s rights and in providing equal opportunities, there are still some realities that put women at a professional disadvantage.
Considering the many different roles that females hold, it's safe to say that women are indispensable not only at home but everywhere else. It's only just right that we accommodate this reality right?
Here are some ways to make your workplace female-friendly:
1. Office breastfeeding and daycare facilities
Childcare is probably the biggest factor pulling women from the workplace, whether
temporarily or permanently. This is fueled, especially for young mothers, by the cost of a nanny
which adds to the expenses of milk and diapers, visits to the pediatrician, and tuition fees. In
many countries abroad, this is remedied by in-house childcare facilities where employees can
leave their children with qualified professionals during office hours at little or no cost, allowing
working mothers to concentrate on their work, and even visit or feed their kids during breaks.
The good news is the Philippines is also catching up and an increasing awareness of the
necessity of these facilities have driven a number of Local Government Units (LGUs),
government agencies, and some private schools to designate breastfeeding and daycare
facilities within the workplace. Unfortunately, this arrangement hasn’t made much headway in
the private sector, even in start-ups and SMEs where every staff member is especially needed.
2. Special work from home arrangements
The beauty of technology is that it allows the possibility of working from literally everywhere – proposals crafted in a coffee shop, reports submitted during an Uber ride, transnational meetings at home, senior professors and high-ranking executives are even known to check and approve outputs during plane rides. Significantly, the quality of output rarely suffers from this workplace
flexibility and even offers employees a choice based on their personal preferences and habits.
While admittedly, this isn’t ideal for all fields of work, its prospect is nonetheless heaven-sent
for many women who, contrary to popular belief, do not become irrational, and remain fully
mentally capable and competent during their menstrual periods, but are prone to dysmenorrhea which often makes it difficult and painful to leave their beds. Elsewhere, this is a life-saver for working mothers, allowing them to care for their children, attend meetings, and meet deadlines from the comfort of their home. This comes at no extra cost to the employer, while allowing for savings on electricity and possible transportation allowances.
3. Zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment
Recently, the world was shook by the scale of sexual harassment perpetuated towards women
in Hollywood. Catalyzed by the Weinstein scandal, this simultaneously unearthed overnight big
names who used power and influence to keep women silent, and empowered many women to
finally speak up on the decades of abuse that Hollywood covered-up and tolerated.
Taking this to the Philippines where victim shaming easily explains such practices, this is fueled by a culture of submission and docility, so that many women keep mum not only because of professional repercussions but also for fear of becoming alienated by everyone in the workplace. What we need is a new narrative which many sources – NGOs, the academe, etc. are more than happy to provide: definitions of sexual harassment, policies that discourage its perpetuation, strategies to encourage women to speak and demand repercussions. All that’s left is an organizational structure that is willing to listen.
4. Unbiased recognition of women’s contributions
As mentioned earlier, women of the Philippines are more likely to hold Executive positions compared to our southeast Asian neighbors. However, their bulk fall into archetypes – spinsters, divorcees and widows, accounting for the insufficient women-specific policies and advancement opportunities for working mothers. All things considered, this highlights the message that women have to choose between family and career, with this last in fact exposing them to greater criticism than their male counterparts, while undervaluing their contributions to the organization.
Similar to the point on sexual harassment, making the most of the talent of all women in the workplace, whether single, married, or otherwise, requires a change of culture, especially a shift
to gender-blind promotions and awarding of opportunities. Assign these tasks to an independent and gender-balanced body from whom the names of candidates are concealed by human resources, consult with experts on how to maximize workplace potential through parity.
5. Provision of employee healthcare
It goes without saying that a big factor in motivating staff performance and guaranteeing loyalty
is the manner by which they are cared for by employers – bonuses, retirement and healthcare,
with this last the most immediate concern given the skyrocketing costs of private healthcare
and the stark vulnerability to stress-related health problems. The provision of healthcare therefore motivates many to stay in a given job, and as most workplaces extend healthcare coverage to dependents as an employee climbs the career ladder, encourages them to perform.
To this end, a perusal of all kinds of workplaces in different fields reveal that high-ranking, performing, and in-demand female employees – often working mothers or women who financially support their families, devote their professional lives and talents to a given workplace because of its assurance of the power woman’s financial and emotional peace of mind vis-à- vis securing in the long term her and her family’s immediate and continued health.
Here at Maria Health, we celebrate the centrality of women in prosperity and development, and
we hope to make it easier for employers, colleagues, and even king makers to see that. Which is
why we partner with the country’s top healthcare providers so that they too can enjoy peace
of mind over the costs of their staff’s healthcare, and better appreciate the contributions,
innovations and the central role the power women bring to their organization.