Managers Can Help to Stop Attacks on Women Employees

Once again, a women IT employee who worked in graveyard shift (that ends at 1:00 – 3:00 AM) is brutally attacked, this time in Chennai on 13th February 2018. Our general secretary Sugendiran has written a detailed article on this incident in Tamil.

This sort of incidents are increasingly happening every year across all major IT hub cities. They attract media and public attention. People talk about loop holes in safety practices, inadequate cab facilities provided by companies, problem faced by women employees working and safety practices companies have to follow in future and forget the incident.

We (IT employees) should not see this as another news and forget this incident in a week’s time.

Even as we insist that companies should follow adequate safety measures to control this kind of incidents and enforce safety measures to be taken for their employees, as a fellow IT employee, I want to highlight responsibilities of each one of us in such incidents and what we can do to control such incidents.

Statement of Work Agreement does not require employees to stay late

IT Companies instruct employees to work in shifts based on nature of work. There is a statement of work agreement between the client and service provider (IT company) on services to be tendered as part of the contract. In my experience, nearly 80% of these contracts fix work timing as general shift which is between 8:30 AM – 6:00 pm. These contracts are managed on onsite-offshore model and during client day time, core onsite team provides the service and during their night time, offshore team provides the service.

Projects don’t follow the contracted timings, but make employees work late

Even as 80% of the contracts instructs employee to work in day shifts, most of the projects don’t follow this timings. Time difference between India and US ranges between 9:30 – 12:30 hours. Even when the contract did not ask employees to work late evenings/nights, managers want to have their team members work late evenings/nights. This results in employee coming late in the morning and leaving late in the evening.

How to schedule sync up calls within working hours?

There may be client meetings/onsite offshore sync up calls planned during this period of time and all IT employees are expected to stay late which even the contract does not support.

Most of the onsite client employees come early in the morning and leave around 5:00 pm, their local time. If you see any onsite client offices, it will be completely vacant after 5:00 pm. Definitely client will understand in most of the scenarios if offshore employees leaving office on time. They will be ready to have these sync up calls on their early morning time. Senior IT employees and manager should ensure while doing planning of meeting, we have to plan to complete it before maximum 7:00 PM. If every project follow this, then automatically there will not be rush for taxis in late evenings/nights and most of the problem will be solved.

Late working hours affect women employees more

In number of instances, woman employees have difficulties to stay late and there are instances where managers force them to stay late in the evening. For many employees, their travel time to their home is 2 hours and staying late will create more issues due to this. But the sad part is if employee refuse to stay late, many projects consider them as under performers and release them from their project.

If you see the average employee strength at the age group of 22-35, male/female ratio comes to be nearly 50%. But after 35 years of age it will be 85:15. The main reason for this is difficulties in staying late by woman employees and many leave their job due to this to take care of their family after marriage.

Working longer is not productive, working smarter is!

There is another expectation from IT companies by many managers where employee stay more in office will have more productivity. Companies also have various attendance mechanism to ensure employee monitoring their stay in office. There are projects which expect average stay of more than 10 hours in office and employees are warned if they stay lesser hours. In all cases, contract will be between 8:30 – 6:00 PM but it is the fault of some managers to set this wrong expectation of employees.

IT is a skilled job and productivity is based on quality hours and not based on quantity of hours. So forcing employees to stretch for longer hours for more days and making them work in week end regularly shows poor planning. But unfortunately a myth is created among IT employees that people working extra hours are top performers. As majority of the crowd follow this myth, minority of employees find it very difficult to stick to regular working hours.

So every senior IT employee/manager should put themselves in junior employee shoes and come forward to plan things better. If this planning is done, majority of the problem will be resolved and we will have much safer work place.

Shyam Sundar
President, NDLF IT Employees Wing

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