Let’s make this clear: Hiring women does not make you an inclusive company, creating a suitable environment for them does.
We’re past that phase where we needed to talk about what women bring to the table because if you don’t understand this by now, your company is doomed. This is about understanding that our work culture is masculine by default (since women entered workforce less than just a century ago) and working towards making it gender neutral.
In most, if not all, companies, an employee who spends more hours at the office is considered more committed towards the job, the employee who is always up for a drink with his colleagues is believed to be more interested in the company, the employee who “puts work first” is celebrated while the person who believes in work-life balance isn’t. While this may sound sound great to an employer, the funny thing is that none of these habits say anything about work performance.
That woman employee who is marginalized at her workplace, spends all those hours working with you and then goes back to also being the primary caretaker of her house and children, because her husband, most probably, and not unlike you, is working late or having that drink with his boss. When we talk about a gender neutral workplace, it’s important to remember that it can only be achieved when we lead a gender neutral lifestyle.
As a man, when you think that “teasing” your women colleagues and cracking jokes with them you wouldn’t share with your sisters and wives, is okay; but taking about sanitary napkins is not, you are not as inclusive as you think. Every time you shame a woman employee for wanting flexible (not less) work hours you may think you are being fair to others but you are Not being inclusive. And lastly, when you look around your office and see most men in managerial positions and most women at entry-level positions, you can know for sure that your company is not gender-inclusive.
As a woman, it gives me immense satisfaction when I see families today getting used to the idea of their daughters and wives working and being a part of the workforce, when less than just a decade ago, this was a point of debate. Undoubtedly, we have made remarkable progress in a short span of time but the best way to continue doing this is to understand that we are not doing women any favours by hiring them, this is something that we, our companies and our country need in order to move forward and towards success.
[About the author: Shubhangini Arora is a proud Feminist and an animal lover. Having graduated from the prestigious Asian College of Journalism, she is currently a part of the growing Indian startup ecosystem and loves reading & writing about work culture & women empowerment among other topics close to her heart.]