In 2017, it would be wrong to claim that women are completely at a disadvantage in society. More and more women are becoming CEOs, working the same positions as their male peers and have a voice within society.
Although there are so many strong, influential female figures and society is becoming much more of an equal place, women are still faced with harassment, prejudice and sexism within the workplace.
In 2017 we are working towards a fairer and more equal work environment and here are some of the biggest workplace grievances still faced by women every day.
Sexual harassment is something that many women experience at some point in their lives, whether this is unwelcomed advances in a nightclub, or whether it is a passing comment in the street, anything that can be deemed as offensive or inappropriate by the woman in question, it can be classed as harassment.
In the workplace, there is a spectrum of sexual advances or comments, ranging from a comment on their appearance, to a proposition or physical encounter. It has been known that companies can lose their reputation if sexual harassment cases become public knowledge, especially if a senior member of CEO of the company is involved.
For example when the CEO of Hewlett-Packard lost his job because of molestation, the stock for the company plummeted. With reputation and money on the line, it’s often the case that companies will deal with these types of incidents swiftly and efficiently.
Despite this, some businesses will act unethically and will attempt to underplay certain situations or to undercompensate the victim. If an incident of this nature happens to a woman, it’s important to first speak to an impartial party, such as a solicitor, in order to know how to address the next step.
A recent study revealed that 66% of working mothers in the UK revealed that they had experienced some form of discrimination during their pregnancy or maternity leave.
This is quite a shocking statistic and again there is a spectrum to the extent of discriminatory intent. Pregnancy can prevent women from being hired, being promoted and from being given important cases or clients.
Some mothers have also admitted that they were encouraged to leave their position and become a stay at home mother, and have also encountered many underhanded comments during and after their pregnancy.
In line with workplace rights, it’s against the law for an employer to deny anybody who has fallen pregnant the right to progress or to a new position as long as the person in question can in fact perform the major functions of the role.
This may indeed be the case, but it does not stop employers from subtly performing acts of maternity discrimination, with the intent of replacing mothers with more capable candidates. In order to prevent this from being the case, women in the workplace need to become more aware of their rights as a professional, pregnancy or no pregnancy and start a dialogue to prevent this from continuing.
Although we are living in 2017, gender bias in still a big part of the society we live in. In addition to sexual harassment and maternity discrimination, there seems to be a glass ceiling to women’s success in some companies, either this or that they are delegated lesser roles more suited to their gender.
This could be something as simple as asking a female worker to assume the role of answering the phones, as opposed to asking her male peer.
Maybe subconsciously, but women are often presented with tasks that assume their gender role within society, or in fact what used to be deemed as their role. Being expected to answer the phones can be seen as an expectation that women are in fact seen as secretaries when compared to their male co-workers.
Many employers will pander to archaic gender roles within the workplace, so it’s important to raise this concern with them directly, as this can help to open their mind to an equal working environment.
This is a point that follows on well from that of gender bias. Again, returning back to the notion that women have a glass ceiling within the working place, it is often the case that their male co-workers are deemed better equipped to lead, and are therefore promoted before women in the company.
Men are seen as being more assertive, resilient and natural-born leaders, whereas women are deemed as being meek and quite subservient, essentially they are better at following instructions and orders than making them.
Although studies have revealed that less women have expressed the sentiment that being at a top position within a company would be too stressful, this percentage is dictating the reality for many more women.
Workplace bullying happens in almost every office at some point. Whether this is a superior picking at one particular worker, or whether this is a group of people partaking in seemingly harmless banter, this can be classed as workplace bullying. Workplace bullying can happen to both men and women in the office and is something that needs to be addressed in order to have a more harmonious working environment.
The solution to workplace bullying is to first speak to a HR representative and file for a harassment case, bullying in the workplace is something that is taken extremely seriously.
Unlike sexual harassment, workplace bullying is more of a subtle act and is not necessarily illegal, so within the workplace the prevention of bullying needs to come from the top down. This means that employers should be both approachable and should also have a zero tolerance policy for workplace bullying and severe consequences for those who fail to comply with the workplace policy.