Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ticking boxes…

Recently our organization introduced this new Key Performance Indicator on Gender (Target to increase the recruitment of females) and it got me thinking… I’ve noticed that now in organizations there are these diversity boxes which if you fit into you can get in easily such as Female, or minority and so on, and that started me wondering will it encourage equality or just end up with less qualified people being hired as they tick the right boxes, in both work as well as for educational programmes?

For me personally its good cos I do tick the right ‘female’ box, but I wouldn’t want to be hired because of that, I would want to be hired cos of my achievements, because I actually am good at what I do… in a way does this devalue our worth? Would people assume that we’re hired cos of the ‘diversity’ factor and resent us, which might have the opposite effect such as deserved promotions being blocked, simply cos they resent the 'female' who they think got special treatment... It’s a difficult thing to figure, I;m currently working in an International Organization, but I hope that is because I am good at what I do and not cos I tick the right box...I have to admit, that here i have not felt any kind of discremenation at all, and work has been rewarding.

Don't get me wrong...I am completely against discrimination against women or minorities or against anyone for that matter (which is often the case especially in engineering, where I was not even considered for a position as I was a female and got to know about it from an internal contact) but at the same time, it sometimes feels like it’s going the other way… I guess maybe you need to give incentives initially to start ‘the ball rolling’ as they say to start receiving enough female/ minority candidates and at the same time to get rid of that whole ‘members only’ mentality where only people who fit in the a certain profile can do the job, but then it should be that women and minorities are hired not because they are a KPI but because they are capable and qualified and will do the job well. And also because diversity adds value by bringing in a different perspective and skill set...

I guess the other factor which would encourage more women in the work force specially in senior positions, is flexible working hours, or working from home, or having child care at the work place, as very often otherwise most women who are senior professionals end up doing that at the cost of their family and what’s the point of even having all the money or recognition in the world if that means that the family life has to suffer…

I think it should be in the interst of all concerned that both men and women have a successful family life as well as a career life. I know, I've completely gone out of topic, but I feel strongly about this, even though i am single now, it;s something, I've often wondered about, looking at friends. Why should career have to come at the expense of family? Won't we all be better off, including the organisations, if the employees had a better work life balance, and were happy, and so gave their 100% to work, rather than worry about what was going on at home, as they spend so little time there.

One good practice I see here is that people take their vacations very seriously. They take a couple of weeks off to spend with family on holidays, sometimes just take the time off to spend at home doing stuff together. Before I came here in all my jobs I had just accumulated my leave, never really taken it, cos it was not the practice, now ofcourse I take it all and go home to sunny Sri Lanka during winter. Plan to get used to this practice of taking time off, now and then. After all the organisation is not going to collapse cos you were not there!

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