Mission: A safe Delhi03/06/2014
Delhi continues to have a notorious reputation of being an unsafe city, especially for
women. What can India Inc do to curb this menace? Viren Naidu has the details
Mona Cheriyan, director HR, ASK Group:
I do believe that Delhi’s reputation for being an unsafe city for working women has been a negative factor for women considering career options in that city. But if organisations pool in their knowledge base, resources and facilities, not only will they be able to afford better safety systems, but also learn from each other’s experiences. Each organisation’s infrastructure and transport facility need to be evaluated by a prospective female employee. Informal networks can be formed to discuss innovative approaches to make the city smart, safe and sustainable.
Marcel R Parker, director and chief mentor, IKYA Human Capital Solutions Ltd:
There is no hard evidence of the safety factor affecting women’s career decisions; however, the fact remains that Delhi is perceived to be a city where women are disrespected as evidenced by the Nirbhaya case and its aftermath. Given a choice, women may opt for Mumbai / Bengaluru / Hyderabad / Pune over Delhi unless familial or other circumstances dictate so. Organisations need to be more collaborative in sharing data on what they do for women’s safety as best practices do not always cost big bucks. There is undoubtedly insufficient data on current policies and data sharing will help to benchmark. NGOs in the area working towards women’s issues can help spread awareness as could industry bodies by awarding organisations doing good work in these areas. Car drops, but driven by women drivers, could be another solution as it will also fill a gap of employment for women. Certification of ‘safety rating audits’ of women’s safety policies and practices at the workplace can also help.
Shachi Irde, executive director, Catalyst India WRC:
Many women are apprehensive about moving to cities or towns that are considered unsafe for women. If a woman is considering this move, one of the first things that she needs to do would be to talk to relevant company personnel about her concerns and check on what the company is doing to ensure the safety of its women employees. To address the concerns of her family, she can inform her family about the flexible work hour option that her company provides and explain the pick and drop services that are available.
Additionally, women themselves can take daily safety precautions such as:
- Keeping her mobile phone fully charged before entering the car;
- Being alert to changes in route and question the driver if the route seems unfamiliar;
- Avoiding having personal conversations with or in the presence of the driver;
- Making sure to have a senior team manager’s and emergency personnel’s contact information on her mobile phone;
- If she has a smart phone, she should consider installing a safety app;
- Letting her family or friends know when she leaves work and is expected home;
- Insisting on being dropped off right at her doorstep;
- Carrying and learning to use pepper spray.
Nishchae Suri, partner and head, people and change, KPMG in India:
A number of leading organisations in Delhi have incorporated women communities and networks. Safety workshops have also been included in training calendars. Where specific policies are concerned, organisations in Delhi have started providing guards during travel and ask them to mandatorily call after the destination has been reached. Safety alarms are also equipped in cars and some companies ensure women are not the last to be dropped or first to be picked. Meanwhile, it is also important to do a thorough background check of all guards and personnel accompanying employees, as well as make provisions for GPS tracking. Awareness about mobile applications that act as a safety measure is being undertaken by some. Organisations have also instituted helplines and made provisions for flexible work.