In just about any workplace with a large and diverse team, there’s a chance that not all team members will have a consistently favorable work experience. Unfortunately, rectifying these issues can be tricky since they often vary from one individual to another. And even when a noticeable pattern indicates that a particular group, such as women, is more marginalized, an organization may not have full control over all the forces driving the disparity.
Nonetheless, at Tuko head office in Uganda, we know that a lack of equity in the workplace can reduce the team’s ability to provide satisfactory e-commerce services and grow as a whole. Accordingly, here are some of the common challenges women face in workplaces and the efforts we’ve taken to address them:
Recent gender-related challenges in the workplace
Within the Ugandan market, women in several organizations are more prone to:
- Receiving lower wages compared to men in similar jobs.
- Sexual harassment, which often manifests as a part of workplace culture, leaving women with no channels to report this behavior.
- Racial discrimination and insensitivity, as women of color usually have to excel more than other women to get the same recognition, compensation and promotion.
- Lower upward mobility, with fewer women holding senior positions while more men get promoted.
- A fear of pursuing the rightful wage, which usually stems from higher self-doubt.
Fortunately, in Uganda, Tuko has an equitable workplace with an organic succession pipeline where managers support women who are interested in moving up to other positions. This is all part of a broader set of equity-oriented initiatives such as:
Recruitment – When hiring, we go beyond academic qualifications and examine a candidates’ larger skill set to determine his or her ability to perform in different positions and lead teams. This approach helps us avoid missing out on great talent.
By adopting a more comprehensive outlook, we’ve given more women a chance at roles traditionally viewed as men’s, such as logistics and tech-related roles like Customer Relationship Management.
Continuous feedback cycle – Our weekly check-ins and company-wide feedback sessions offer a safe space for employees to be open about the work-related challenges they face or other personal responsibilities that may compete with or affect their performance at work.
These could range from balancing family duties with work assignments to maintaining productivity when working from home. When managers listen, team members feel better knowing that a solution can come from within the organization. They don’t have to look at an exit as the only option.
Employee Wellness Programs – We have partnered with therapists and counselors who are on standby and ready to provide professional help to team members whose workplace experiences may be taking a toll on their mental health.
Such an initiative helps reduce the stigma those who admit to having mental health challenges face. It also helps equip them with basic skills to navigate stressful situations and build confidence, proactiveness, resilience and empathy.
Peer learning – We have improvised training through peer learning that enables team members from various departments to exchange best practices and other transferable ideas or approaches to work. These include the Managing Matters Program and the Excel Training Program.
Employee Resource Networks – These networks are all about bringing together team members with similar lifestyles and responsibilities outside work, like parenting. By doing so, they can exchange advice on dealing with challenges particular to those in their group and possibly help each other with certain tasks.
How our women’s career development and inclusivity policies and programs have benefitted us
- During the previous People Performance Resources (PPR) cycles, a higher percentage of women were promoted. We’ve always checked this metric during review cycles to ensure we take remedial action in bridging any gap from the male counterparts. Additionally, more women have held senior positions in the company over the years.
- We’ve effectively administered maternity leave to support employees’ maximum involvement in their children’s formative years. We also consider additional requests and have a flexi-time policy upon resumption of duties, thus enabling mothers to return to work smoothly.
- Our “Pick your Perk” benefits ensure that each individual selects a benefit that resonates with their needs. This includes utilizing the provided stipend for childcare services.
- We’ve made strides in supporting employee health through medical provisions for employees and their dependents for all-round health coverage.
Our learnings and future efforts
Uganda is a dynamic market, and we need to ensure sustainability. The ultimate success of any workplace cascades down to an inclusive and equitable experience as we have diverse teams with different backgrounds that need an enabling environment and a level playing field to thrive.
We must be intentional in the policies and programs we roll out in order to achieve our end goal. In addition, we should create more open communication channels for continuous feedback to address issues that arise sporadically and maintain a focus on the organization’s key objectives.