Fostering gender equality in the workplace

April 28, 2022 | 16:56
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Many businesses in the country are now paying more attention to preventing sexual harassment and fostering a culture of equality and inclusion in the workplace.
Fostering gender equality in the workplace
Fostering gender equality is a solution to prevent sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment at work is a manifestation of gender inequality. It is a significant obstacle to women’s emotional health and productivity and their advancement to leadership positions.

In Vietnam, the most recent governmental action to address sexual harassment is the Labour Code 2019, which entered into force in January last year, giving a clearer legal definition of sexual harassment and making it clear that it will not be tolerated in the workplace.

The code stipulates administrative fines of VND30-60 million (around $1,300-2,600) for committing an act of sexual harassment, which is clearly a positive step toward eliminating this issue in the workplace. Employers may also be responsible for their employees’ acts during worktime.

Sexual harassment worsens employee performance, leading to an increase in absenteeism, a reduction in productivity, and a lack of motivation. However, it can be argued that the above fines to punish violations are not the most effective solution. Preventing this situation through projects that foster gender equality in the workplace could yield far greater benefits.

Hoai Dinh, executive director of the Vietnam Business Coalition for Women’s Empowerment (VBCWE) said that preventing and responding to sexual harassment is a compulsory requirement for businesses if they want to build a safe and equal working environment.

“A methodical investment in building a policy to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace shows an organisation's respect for all individuals and should be a part of the roadmap to promote gender equality in every enterprise,” she said.

Dinh also shared that during the process of working with businesses, the VBCWE sees that many pay great attention to this issue. However, they face a challenge in the implementation of solutions due to limitations on human resources and a lack of detailed guidance on how to report, make complaints, and prevent retaliation. There is also confusion about organising training courses to raise awareness among employees and managers.

“Receiving in-depth training courses and consulting on the development and implementation of sexual harassment policies in the workplace will be an effective solution to help many businesses create a safer and more inclusive workplace, allowing employees to feel secure and dedicate themselves fully to the company,” Dinh concluded.

Practical solutions proposed by VBCWE include:

- Develop a formal policy against discrimination that outlaws all forms of sexual harassment and arrange resources to handle complaints and denunciations.

- Organise internal training courses on the prevention of sexual harassment and communicate the policies and processes to all employees.

- Install cameras at the workplace to limit harassment activity. The data from the camera is the evidence to serve for an investigation and basis to issue fines for violations.

By Oanh Nguyen

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