Gender sensitive workplaces maximise the potential of female employees, says a book released Monday that suggests various measures like flexible hours to make offices more women-friendly.
"Engendering Workplaces: Framework for a Gender Policy", as the manual is called, lists out recommendations that organisations should follow to retain women employees and "bring out the best in them".
The book has been put together by Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), an NGO working on issues of governance and gender issues, in collaboration with the Gender Community-UN Solution Exchange.
Rambha Tripathy of PRIA said that among the recommendations were flexible working hours for women, travelling arrangements, especially at night, and better facilities for pregnant women, lactating mothers and those with young children.
"Besides the working hours and travelling arrangements that will ensure safety to their women employees, work places should also have a committee to look into sexual harassment cases," Tripathy told IANS.
"With such arrangements, not only will the organisation retain its women employees but also bring out the best in them since the women will realise that their company really cares for them and peps them up to perform even better," she added.
According to the National Human Development Report, 2001, the percentage of women in the labour force in urban areas in 1999-2000 was 24.6 percent as compared to 78.6 percent for men.
Since men are generally represented more in numbers than women in workplaces, firms have largely catered to the needs of men. In this context, the manual suggests that with the support of both men and women, workplaces can be made more gender sensitive.
The manual has three broad sections - the first briefly touches upon the history and challenges to women's concerns in the public sphere and states the significance of a gender policy.
The second section suggests incorporating gender concerns through a gender policy within the organisational structure, its culture, systems and policies. The third talks about the actual implementation of the gender policy.
Said Rajesh Tandon, president of PRIA: "Qualified and educated professionals often feel that they know everything about the two sexes working together. This implies significant unlearning in order to attain gender sensitisation".
The manual, intended for use primarily within the voluntary sector first, is designed for all organisations, both at an administrative as well as a programmatic level.