Last year was marked by a raised public consciousness against gender inequality and atrocities against women. In the wake of this trend, Social Access, along with Laadli Media Awards, conducted an opinion poll among people in the media and advertising industry. The survey was supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
The survey, which was carried out in December 2013, indicated that 60 per cent of the women felt their commitment to the organisation would be questioned if they chose flexible working hours. Interestingly, even men believed they were not encouraged to choose flexible work hours.
Around 67 per cent of the women respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that majority of the senior managers genuinely encourage gender equality.
The survey also revealed that only half of the companies have committees to handle harassment complaints. Also, reporting of sexual harassment is quite low.
Speaking about the thought behind the survey, Dr A L Sharada, director, Population First, which organises the Laadli Media and Advertising awards, says that considering the casual styles of working, long working hours, flexi timings and the creative nature of the work, there is often a perception that such employees are better off in terms of gender sensitivity at work place. The study, which was commissioned to Social Access, was intended to check the reality.
"The Tehelka case brought these issues into the public domain subsequently and the recent judgment of the industrial tribunal in the case of Dr Rina Mukherjee vs The Statesman set a precedent of sorts by restoring her employment and directing the publication to pay back wages," she explains.
As for the partnership with Social Access, Dr Sharada says that Lynn De Souza, founder of Social Access, has been a supporter of Laadli for many years.
According to Dr Sharada, the findings of the survey will be made accessible to media houses through events, workshops and getting the report published to advocate for workplace gender equality in media and advertising organisations.