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Challenges Faced by Women at BPO Sectors

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By Richa Chaturvedi:

At present, due to fast rising financial demands of middle-class families in India, several women are compelled to play the role of a perfect housewife, an ideal mother and a professionally oriented employee, all at the same time. In past few decades, India has shown tremendous development in terms of employment opportunities and, offering bright career options for women, especially teenage girls seeking part-time jobs. Today, many ladies are not only surpassing the barriers of sex but, they’re also pursuing with odd jobs (including defence services, merchant navy and commercial flying) that were once restricted to the male members of the society.

However, despite of all these advancements, Indian society still follows a patriarchal approach towards working women. Even today, many people consider females to be homemakers and not working professionals. This approach is a major reason behind discrimination suffered by employed females.

In 2000, the western countries had opened up several doors for boosting Indian economy. Due to popularity of online business and the increasing trend of joining part-time jobs, especially among teenagers, several BPOs have established their roots in the market. Presently, India has emerged as a world-class back office destination. Since the jobs offered by BPOs and call centers were easier therefore, several youngsters were attracted towards this newly minted field. Based on a survey conducted in 2010, women contribute to one-third staff, currently working in the Indian BPOs. Still, they’re subjected to various “ups and downs” in their professional lives and, this problem needs to be addressed.

Some common work challenges experienced by ladies working in a call center environment have been enlisted here:

  • Most employers are skeptical about the ideas and communication skills of women hence, most females do not get a job that goes with their talents and experience.
  • Females are subjected to constant discrimination in their offices. Often, the roles involving leadership qualities, quick decision making abilities and team management skills, are not handed over to a woman.
  • Safe transportation is a major setback for girls, irrespective of small or big cities.
  • Irregular availability of work, zero job security, low salaries and varying working hours are general problems experienced by girls working in metropolitan cities.
  •  Sexual harassment by colleagues and senior staff is a blatant issue nowadays. Numerous cases involving sex scandals, physical abuse and forced rapes are highlighted by media on regular basis. These cases are commonly encountered by the staff working in night shifts.
  •  The average literacy rate of Indian women is quite low in comparison to the average literacy rate of Indian men. Low-level of education hampers their growth opportunities. Further, due to lack of self confidence and fluent communication skills, most females find it difficult to express their standpoint in the corporate sector.
  • Female employees are handicapped by their own family members and associates. Lack of motivation from the loved ones, hinders their progress.

Although many large-scale organizations are making appreciable attempts in resolving the above mentioned problems yet, the results obtained are not at all satisfactory. Several BPOs have introduced “pick and drop facilities” or free transportation services for women. These office cabs are operated by recognized drivers. Further, SMS services, office hotlines and pre-installed GPS as well as CCTV cameras have helped in enhancing internal security.

Government authorities have laid down special rules to ensure basic safety of females working in private sectors. Police verification of office staff, setting up of efficient complain addressing systems and performing background inspections at regular time intervals, are essential requirements of the present hour. Nevertheless, we also need strict sexual harassment laws to deal with physical abuse. Moreover, it becomes the moral responsibility of males to chuck their chauvinistic attitude aside. Fathers, husbands and brothers must take an initiative to encourage the female members of their families to progress and protest when required. Society, in general, should be cognizant of the needs of a woman.

Always remember that even women need cheerleaders and backup supports at times. Development of our nation is incomplete without the progress of the female sections and since BPO is a fast developing field, special attention must be devoted to it.

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  1. Shantanu

    Article zeroes in on a single challenge faced by women n dat s suppression by males…. s dis the only challenge dey face..???? i guess not… u talked about females joining profession like merchant navy and army. but let me tell you that there females are not given any hard physical task…leave aside HARD physical task…they r privileged not to do any physical task which requires sweating….and dis s all done by men sitting over dere.y are’nt females taking dis s as a challenge that yes they have got every capability of doin such tasks f bestowed on dem…but they never do….y s dis not considered a challenge????rahi BPO ki baat. to every BPO s nt that big enuf to provide transportation. f a female s joining a BPO den she s well aware that she will get subjected to late night schedule and also it may happen dat no transportation s provided….but she joins it thinking she s a female nd dat she s destined to get facilities and privileges on top of her fundamental rights and DUTIES…

    1. Richa

      @ Shantanu,

      The basic idea behind writing this article was to summarize the problems faced by women who work at call centers. I’m strictly not talking about “male suppression” anywhere here. The point is to prepare women to face these challenges with best of their abilities and to state possible solutions which BPOs can take up in order to help them. And it works both way because even males might experience these issues. This article has been written from a female’s viewpoint considering the fact that I’m a female myself and I’ve closely experienced what has been written here. Besides, while most men can deal with problems at workplace, most females can’t handle it so they should work towards the solution.

      It’s true most call centers don’t have transportation facilities or flexible working hours. In such cases, the female should herself find possible solutions to deal with her problem at her end. And to mention, if these amenities are offered by companies, they’ll be provided to all, irrespective of gender, age or sex. Both men and women are mutually benefited. While sending you out for work, your parents are not that concerned about your security, it’s because you’re a male but security does concern them when they’re sending out their daughters to work at night shifts. So, if the employees can extend a helping hand for contributing towards there security, what’s wrong in it?

      I’m not much informed about professions like air force and merchant navy however as you’ve mentioned, if the management is partial in the case of women and they’re not offering them “Sweaty assignments” as you say, then they’re at fault because they’re denying them a chance to prove themselves by working on similar “rough” terms as in the case of men.

      Being a women myself, I don’t expect special privileges from society, I’d rather have them by fighting for them and proving myself worth it. So, it’s a request that please come over this male-female agenda and think beyond it.

  2. Zeus

    Things are not that bad as you think 😉 I know many girls working as team leader and handling different leadership roles… and noone is 100% safe anywhere 😉

  3. disqus_NyW80QT8Z2

    Hello,

    Can anybody suggest how i can interview women who left job from IT/BPO after marriage and childbirth and now either looking for job or working as housewives? do you guys have any association or contact details of such women.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. yssubramanyam

      first of all know her problem, what made her to quit the job? most of the woman are leaving job during pregnancy since they are not given adequate maternal leave/rest. they need special attention /care to facilitate family life. if you give her confidence that the family life will be given enough privileges with out damaging the liabilities of office function, the woman will voluntarily serve the organization.

  4. yssubramanyam

    there are certain isolated cases every where in the working place. we need to demand the change of mind set of men regarding working woman.

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