Teni is the Manager of human capital in one of the multinational companies, while Mark, a colleague, and former classmate, heads human resources in one of the parastatals. They meet at a Human Resource Workshop on Appraisal Systems. During their lunch break, the two former classmates grab a table and after the usual niceties and small talk, Teni engages Mark on the issue of gender discrimination in the workplace.
Teni commences: “You know Mark, I’ve been thinking lately about proposing a bill on Women’s Rights In The Workplace and Gender Equality as there appear to be a lot of obsolete laws that need to be abolished or modified to reflect the reality today that women be given equal opportunities in the workplace and their remuneration should be equivalent to that of their male counterparts who have the same roles and responsibilities. What is your view on this?”
Mark clears his throat and responds: “Teni, this is a sore issue but I will let you know that I agree with you absolutely. However, while I do not agree with those who practise such discrimination, I’ve heard arguments given to justify their stand. I will classify their reasons into 3:
- THE CARE ROLE – Women by their God-ordained role are the first point of contact with relation to children. They are the ones who mostly do school runs, attend open days and other school activities, and take them for medical appointments and after-school extracurricular activities. This impacts the time available to devote to the organisation’s work. Even when they return to their desks it takes a while to settle back into their routine.
- THE CHILD BEARING ROLE – Every pregnancy entitles the woman to three months of Maternity Leave with pay and often for the first month after resumption to work, they are entitled to one or two hours off the regular work hours.
- JOB ROLE – There are certain job roles that have guiding regulations regarding employing women e.g. the Nigeria Police Force. This is because of the sensitive nature of their function which requires screening of their intended spouse and prohibits married women from joining the Force although they may fulfill the conditions spelt out in the regulations to enable them to get married after joining as spinsters”.
While Mark is reeling out the arguments, Teni’s mind races through some scenarios experienced. She recalls victimisation many years ago as a young woman earlier employed. She returned from her three months of maternity leave with a two-month-old pregnancy. She was utterly confused and opened up to the Human Resource Manager that she was shocked when informed by the Doctor, during her post-natal check-up that she had taken in and was in fact two months pregnant. The organisation was peeved that she needed to go on maternity leave twice within a year and made her pay for it by being passed up for promotion twice. She is currently facing challenges on staffing with the Customer Services Department of her company as Tito resumed maternity leave a week earlier to face her with exactly the same scenario, she had found herself in so many years ago. To compound it, Chitru commences her maternity leave in a week’s time. About this time in the previous year, Jumai had to proceed on maternity leave earlier than planned as she fell into premature labour. She has however, managed to juggle the affairs of the Department without negatively impacting service quality and has maintained a good retention rate. She rouses herself from her reverie just as Mark rounds up and expostulates her position as follows:
“My take on the arguments is that while the situations analysed are a reality, nothing is jeopardised by fulfilling the roles described. The organisation loses nothing provided the output of the staff involved meets expectations and is at par with their male or other counterparts. Productivity should not be measured by physical presence at work but on tangible markers,e.g., output, impact on the organisation’s bottom line and reputation, positive creativity, etc. This is why modern Appraisal Systems must be developed and deployed. This Workshop is indeed timely.
My views are ably supported by my observations regarding productivity when most organisations switched to working remotely as a result of the recent COVID Pandemic. Statistics indicate improvement in productivity while affording employees flexibility in work methods and routines. Women are naturally gifted at multitasking and are able to organise themselves into achieving desired results and objectives. It is therefore important for countries to revamp their extant laws where they tend toward gender discrimination”.
3 thoughts on “THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES?”
This is a really sensitive issue, it needs the putting together of heads between females and top management representatives to work out a sustainable template for the future..
Big ups to our career mothers out there, una too try
This is a sensitive issue. High time the HR Authorities look into it. Performance should be based on out put vis a vis other yardsticks to meet the company’s goals and objectives not on the gender qualifications alone.
Thank you Havilah!
I agree with you ma.