Few years back, I was working in a reputed IT firm which had more than thousands of employees. It was a desperate time and I was looking for an onsite opportunity from my workplace for my career growth. Working onsite is a system where employees work in a business location with clients mostly outside the company’s office. It is a career opportunity to learn more about the work along with the added perks of visiting an entirely new place and the extra pay. Being very confident about my experience and knowledge I used to discuss and check about career opportunities with my manager.
And it was at that time I came to know my colleague (male), was applying for work visa for a travel which was initiated by the company. The detective in me had to wear the hat and start the enquiry. I drilled him more to find out about how he alone got the visa process initiated. Turned out, my manager had checked with him and all of his friends whether they were willing for travel and initiated processing of their visas for onsite.
I checked with all my colleagues and came to know that all male employees were asked for the opportunity while the female employees were never asked. The assumption could have been, female employees have family to take care and the answer would have been a “No”.
Now in the first place, though I was furious I did not get the opportunity, the real problem evolved when none of my female colleagues were given the option of discussing about the opportunity.
The question was about inclusivity and it was obvious I had to raise voice. I had discussions with my circle of female colleagues. Next level, I had discussions with my seniors. I raised concern on behalf of all female employees. There were no other answers than sorry. The reply was they knew most women won’t take up the opportunity. I had to convince them, it was a matter of not assuming but asking their choice without any discrimination. That year visa processing was done and dusted with all male employees as it was too late for a change.
But next year visa processing discussions, involved all female employees and there were a handful of them, including me who got our visa processed successfully. I still take pride in that small change which was brought a few years back in my work place. I smile and feel the same happiness when those female employees share their onsite pictures.
I hope we all women are given our rights and be included, be it in family, work place or in society. Let’s grow from reality to equality, equality to equity and from equity to liberation. It’s not far; just that it takes time and our courage to speak up and our efforts to promote the values while holding each others hand.