I have been working for more than 30 years. It is only in the last decade that workplace conditions for women have significantly improved. After finishing school, I wanted to join the SAPS dog unit but was refused a position because I was a woman and might become pregnant. It has been a constant battle to get to where I am today. However, I consider myself one of the lucky few who was given the opportunity to work at a company like RMS, where employees are judged on their abilities to do the job and not their gender.
It is indisputable that change comes from the top. Having an unconventional CEO and Board does much to curb gender inequality in the workplace. When your leader and senior management strive for gender equality, it becomes a non-issue at work. RMS leads by example. Personnel appointments are entirely ability-driven with many female colleagues being promoted based on their skills and experience.
Overcoming remote work issues
Unfortunately, working from home has made it difficult to interact with colleagues. This results in lost opportunities to learn from one another. Because RMS operates in a niche industry, our primary training and experience is gained from close interaction with colleagues and team members. One can learn a lot by listening to people discussing work at the water cooler.
And while we try to keep this momentum digitally, we cannot ignore the human need for face-to-face interaction as opposed to sitting at home in front of a laptop. It is hardly surprising that a ‘sense of loneliness’ is on the rise globally resulting in more psychological issues coming to the fore. We experienced challenges training new personnel during the past 18 months. Of course, we tried the numerous virtual options that are available. Unsurprisingly, we found that they are not as successful as face-to-face training.
Gender inequality is also present in homes. Because she is a woman, it is expected that she takes care of all her family’s needs even if she is the sole provider who works a full day. This remains a deep-seated reality in our society.
Regardless of any unjust pressures, women must never stop educating themselves. Whether this happens through tertiary education or informal means, education translates into confidence which is integral to being successful in any career.
Women must continuously gather knowledge and show respect to one another and their male colleagues. Respect towards others cultivates a culture of collaboration. Teachers have the privilege and responsibility to guide children towards being part of a society where gender and even sexual orientation do not define a person.
Guiding our children’s view on this issue could result in eradicating it. We must lead by example to show them that nothing is impossible, and that gender does not predict or limit what a female can accomplish.
Charlie Schoeman, Team Leader: Client Account Management at Remote Metering Solutions.