June 26, 2013
Concerns about the safety of female employees in the BPO sector are as old as the BPO sector itself. Companies, industry bodies and enforcement authorities have been working closely to address these concerns and make the BPO industry a safe place for women.
Among the latest of such efforts is the Gurgaon district magistrate P C Meena’s ruling that vehicles used for picking and dropping employees should be equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS). In an effort to develop the ability to track cab movements and locate them in an emergency, the ruling has made compliance mandatory for car rental companies providing cabs to BPOs and call centre service providers.
Car rental companies have been given a month to install GPS systems, failing which their vehicles will be be ‘challaned’ and impounded. On the June 20, while the police department extended the deadline by another 15 days, an official told ‘Times of India’ that post the revised deadline “those found flouting the rule will have to face action”.
In an effort to tackle another menace plaguing safe transport for BPO employees, the police department has decided to penalize BPO cab drivers illegally ferrying passengers at various locations across Gurgaon, including the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. By prohibiting cab drivers from offering lifts to strangers, the traffic police aim to eliminate risks of carjacking and robbery in the region.
On the other hand, earlier this month, DNA reported that Cisco may soon have women drivers ferry their employees to and from workplaces. Working closely with NGOs that train and engage women drivers, Cisco aims to not only ensure employment for women from modest financial backgrounds (as drivers), but would also ensure safety of women IT employees who are until now being escorted by male drivers, which requires an additional security person to accompany them. NGOs will also be training these women drivers in communication and self-defence for additional safety.
While absolute safety is still far from sight, efforts from authorities and companies suggest that employee safety continues to be a key concern and companies are willing to invest time and energy into improving the situation.