Bhargav (Alfa Laval) shares his experience of the recent Gender Sensitisation Training from November 2020-February 2021.
What does gender equality mean to you?
Gender equality means equal opportunity for everyone. A lot of people like me have grown up with working parents and understand that both of them work with equal opportunities, the mindset is changing.
A lot of things are still however somewhere ingrained in our mind that some are more and some are less. The belief is that if it is house work, the fairer gender needs to be more into it, when it is going out and working and making the larger life decisions it is the men. Seeing everyone with the same lens is very critical. When I come into an organisation it indirectly or invariably happens that there are a lot of lenses that people wear, age is more or age is less, experience is more, experience is less. The gender is different so they might or might not be able to do certain level of tasks. That lens needs to be changed so that people will have more clarity about another person.
Anything you learnt about yourself?
We think that I am the best driver in the world and the rest of the people don’t know how to drive on the road, but when you put yourself in their shoes, you figure out their challenges, what are their aspirations, what are their shortcomings your perspective completely changes. Putting that into the context of gender sensitisation I know there were a lot of men in my team, the question was asked on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate yourself in terms of being very understanding of gender equality. Everyone rated themselves 7,8 or 10 saying 'I am doing so many good things' etc, but when a few further questions were asked we very clearly understood that we are not even a 2, 3 or 5. The amount of blindspots that it opened up made it very clear that there is a long path in front of us and the other aspect is that at least it told us that yes there is a path. Everyone is at a different maturity level. It cannot be forced. The only thing that we can do is to sensitise, help people understand their blindspots and if a couple of things improve I think it can have a great impact.
How did the training empower you?
During the entire workshops there were a lot of different women who brought out their thoughts, their feelings, their emotions and what they want the men in their lives or in general to change. The sense of empowerment came when all these people started to tell us that yes there are certain things you have in your power to change. You can exercise that power so that it’s not only you who feels empowered but in general all the people around you will feel similarly empowered in terms of exercising their freedom. I initially felt that I knew a lot of things and that I was equal in my mindset when it comes to gender but this opened up some of the doors, I now feel that yes I need to work on certain things. I feel this was an empowering aspect of the training. What was your experience of being involved with people from different companies?
It goes without saying that this was enriching. The only feeling that I had is most of us have a very similar kind of background. There’s a positive and negative aspect: The positive is that we understood each other well because we have very similar contexts in our past experience. We come from a very similar organisational culture. We are all Nordic-Swedish cultured organisations.
I would have wanted more diverse organisations or people with more diverse backgrounds. Maybe someone from a factory shop floor, a lady who is working on a factory shop floor would have brought out a completely different aspect saying that I have to work with almost hundred men and I’m the only woman out there. What are the challenges that she faces on a regular basis? Maybe some senior folk or someone very young maybe a graduate entering training, she has just joined the organisation, what kind of things is she feeling and seeing? Someone in my age group would find it very difficult to very clearly understand people almost 10 years younger. What does gender sensitivity mean to them? It would have been a bit more interesting to have that perspective.