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How workplaces can create safer environments for women

Working as a woman can be a daunting experience, especially for those who have to work in male dominated environments. Therefore, it is important to discuss the ways in which workplaces can create safer and more comfortable spaces for its female employees.

The main thing that I feel a lot of workplaces should be implementing is training programmes for each member of staff. Hanging up posters that attempt to promote diversity and inclusion can only achieve so much, but makes little difference on how safe an individual actually feels when they come to work. It is just words and pictures and these can often feel like they are there just to show face for a company. If clear policies were implemented and taught as a training module, more people would be educated and know that consequences do exist for harassment in the workplace. It would make it less taboo for women to report such harassment in these cases, if clear procedures for what to do in these scenarios were outlined. It is crucial that anonymity is guaranteed when reporting in these instances too.

More women being promoted into leadership roles would benefit their female workers massively. Depending on the job, many of those in the higher positions will be men. Whilst companies shouldn’t be promoting people solely based on gender, more gender equality in the workplace needs to be encouraged so that managerial roles are equally balanced. This would demonstrate that companies take the work of their female employees seriously and would guarantee that they always had someone senior to turn to, should they ever need to in such a scenario. Establishing a working environment of trust is only a bonus if it is for all members of staff.

In a survey carried out by Wise Women, the safety of women in the streets was touched on around different workplaces, particularly hospital campuses. These are just some of the examples that I wanted to highlight which stood out to me as why workplaces need to be doing more to make their employees feel safer and like they matter: “It feels very unsafe walking to the staff car park at 10pm at the end of my shift - there is no security presence and it is a very isolated area” and “Feels very isolated at night, very long and loads of side streets. Not many shops etc to provide escape points or feel less vulnerable”.

Others touched on the expensive parking meters on the streets surrounding Glasgow Royal Infirmary meaning staff are a 10-15 min walk to their cars at nearby neighbourhoods, this has led to reports of staff being harassed and approached. 70% of NHS staff are women - it simply is not good enough.

Women will only begin to feel safer at their place of work when their safety is taken seriously through actions and not words.

Michaela Roach

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