Women generally have a hard time feeling safe. Whether they are in a public or a private place, they have to look out for their backs. The threats they face are not only physical but also social.
According to Gallup, 72 percent of men feel safe when walking alone at night while only 62 percent of women feel safe. From low-income to high-income countries, fewer women feel safe physically. This stems from deeply rooted social issues between genders. On a general scale, women are afflicted by discrimination and violence.
Aside from a dark and empty alley at night, workplaces pose certain threats to women. Male supremacy and toxic masculinity in the office can hinder women from doing their work properly. There could also be workmates who would blatantly make harmful jokes that perpetuate the exact things that make women unsafe.
Therefore, business owners should always guarantee the safety of their employees. Here are ways to improve the safety and security of women in the office:
1. Increase Security Features and Personnel
Protecting the premises physically can reduce the keeping intruders or people with bad intent away from the office. This does not only protect women but the entire business as well. It protects everything in the building as well as the assets of the business.
Take for example the disappearance of Cynthia Anderson. The story goes that Cynthia had to look at a huge “I love you, Cindy” graffiti outside her office window for months. She was also receiving phone calls that creeped her out. Her employer gave her a panic button, and the office always needed to be locked. However, Cynthia still disappeared without anybody knowing what happened to her. This could have been prevented if a security guard were hired to guard the office and oversee everyone.
Adding equipment like CCTV cameras in every room of the office to keep track of any untoward incidents that could arise. Hiring armed contract security guards can keep the premises safe because trained personnel will be spotting potential threats. Additionally, placing security guards at the entrance of the building ensures that only authorized people can access the building.
2. Gender Sensitivity Training
Gender sensitivity training educates employees — no matter their gender — about the experiences of people coming from different backgrounds. Through these sessions, people will learn about proper and sensitive communication, especially towards marginalized groups. Hopefully, through gender sensitivity training, sexist jokes and behaviors can be eliminated in the workplace.
These sessions will not only make women feel comfortable but also members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Since they are also subject to negative comments and discrimination, employees will develop an awareness of SOGIE. After all, everyone is covered by SOGIE education because everyone has a sexual orientation, gender identity, and distinct expressions.
3. Listen to Women
Women are people who are capable of thinking, too. Therefore, they should be given platforms and opportunities to speak up in the workplace. Consequently, they should also be heard. This brings about equal opportunities for all genders in the workplace. This strengthens collaboration and encourages better decision-making in important projects.
Furthermore, this builds their confidence in the company — that in the future, when they speak up about a problem, the company will listen. In the case that harassment will take place in the workplace, it’s important for victims to air out their concerns and to feel safe doing so.
Research involving 600 undergraduate women in New York found that 25 percent of women choose not to report their experiences. The four common reasons are “shame or embarrassment, minimization of the experience, fear of consequences, and privacy.”
This is why it’s important to cultivate an environment where women will feel safe to report their experiences. While nobody can force women to disclose incidents, their surroundings and society should not be a factor that stops them from doing so. Hence, a workplace culture that supports gender equality and vilifies harmful jokes or comments can be a breeding ground for safety.
Yes, It’s Equality
Women, being a group that experiences substantial abuse and violence, will need more protection than their male counterparts. However, this does not discredit the negative experiences of men.
By increasing security and safety in the workplace, every single employee is protected. CCTV cameras watch over the entire room. Gender sensitivity training unpacks the experiences of every gender from diverse backgrounds. Giving women a voice at work does not silence men, as this means that women should be heard as much as men are heard.
At the end of the day, adding more security features, conducting gender sensitivity training, and giving the floor to every employee in the office will make the workplace a safer place. When the workplace is safe, employees can perform their tasks comfortably.