Navigating through the work space should be a job on its own. Fighting through terrible morning traffic, work loads the size of mountains, meetings that would have been sized into an email and most of all, the sheer determination to keep proving that you’re much more than your salary’s worth. The saddest bit is women have it way worse.
Women excel in all fields including male-dominated fields like the tech space, finance, engineering and even as marine pilots like our very own Elizabeth Marami!
Women play a vital role in economic development of the country and their contribution is nothing short of their male counterparts. However there are still several issues and problems that women face today.
Ask the nearest 100 women you can come across and the answers remain the same; from rampant and constant sexual harassment cases, flexible work schedules, gender bias to issues of equal pay, women face more than unique challenges as they navigate their careers.
The biggest question however remains: why is this still happening? Why are we not fighting for our women?
Over the last decade, extensive research has proven that companies benefit when they actively recruit, develop, and advance women. Study after study demonstrates that innovation-driven enterprises that strive for inclusion are better positioned to capture exceptional talent, reduce turnover costs, enhance organizational performance, and build a robust pipeline for developing leaders.
In the recently published Kenyan SME’s, Recruiting, and Tech White Paper by Duma Works, a lot needs to be done to ensure the recruitment and advancement of women in organizations and boards of companies is fair, well-rounded and most of all not biased on their gender or sexuality.
A couple of these things include:
1. The importance of this cannot be underestimated – Creating a safe and productive culture for women, including robust sexual harassment policies, no interruption practices, and mentorship.
Despite a huge number of women saying that they have been victims of sexism at work, sexism and sexual harassment are still widely unreported in the workplace.
Why? I’ll give you 5 major reasons
- Of those who have reported sexual harassment, most come back saying that the incident was not even acknowledged by their company. Meaning the company doesn’t even acknowledge sexual harassment as a real offence!
- Some say the incident was acknowledged, but NO ACTION was taken!
- In other cases, the offender was JUST GIVEN A WARNING!
- In more frequent cases, the offender was a person in a high position, one where even the HR feared reporting or addressing the incident because they were afraid they’d get fired.
- The fifth and saddest reason is sexual harassment in workplaces in Kenya is seen as a normal thing. A slap on her behind during tea break, grazing her thigh during the Monday morning strategy meeting and even ‘accidentally’ touching her breasts has become such a common thing to the point where even when an accusation comes forth, no one would believe anything was done wrong.
2. Conducting name and sex-blind resume reviews for candidates to be judged on talent and experience, rather than gender.
3. Fighting actively against underlying biases. In most offices, certian roles are for certain genders e.g females for executive assistants, or males for head of operations. This shouldn’t be the case.
4. Having transparent and equitable feedback and promotion schemes, allowing women a fair chance to rise through the ranks as quickly as
their male counterparts.
What’s the way forward?
We have to start by recognizing that there is hardly a discipline of the human profession in the world that does not have women working in it.
We need to get to a place where we aren’t fighting gender-biased stereotypes anymore. We need to pause, reflect and embrace our strength of marrying empathy and practicality.
So let’s fight harder for our women. Let’s keep making room at the table for women to thrive at the workplace!