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Business to politics, gender glare
- B-school centre on office grievance

Ahmedabad, Nov. 2: The Indian Institute of Management here has set up a gender resources centre to address grievances in government organisations, private companies and NGOs.

Headed by Professor Asha Kaul, the centre will conduct research that aim to “make a difference” in the way gender issues are treated at the workplace. “It was an academic need as well as the need of the institute to give back to society. We are in that position where we can make a difference,” Kaul said.

The centre, which will hold its first meeting tomorrow, has 13 faculty members from various disciplines, including human resources, organisational behaviour, health, telecommunications, finance and communication.

Kaul said the IIM centre is different from other organisations working on gender issues because “our approach is holistic, integrated”.

She added that gender cells have so far restricted themselves to empowering women. “We want to address the problems of both men and women.”

The centre will carry out “gender auditing and budgeting” in corporate organisations so that they can check whether internal regulations to prevent gender abuse and discrimination are being scrupulously followed.

The immediate “action plan”, however, is to get in touch with various government departments, NGOs and private companies to explain to them “what work has been done and what we plan to do together to sensitise people,” Kaul said.

Besides training and policy formulation, “our approach will be to look at the work environment in any organisation and the kind of work done in order to recommend policy change and, if needed, to incorporate a gender perspective”, she said.

A communication expert, Kaul said the issues that need to be addressed are sexual harassment, communication behavioural pattern and parenting.

The professor has been organising seminars and workshops on gender bias in offices, one of which was titled ‘Effective Communication Strategy: Men and Women at Work’.

Kaul has plans of staging street plays to raise awareness. She loves theatre and would utilise the full potential and effectiveness of this medium, she said.

The centre has already drawn the attention of several organisations, especially women’s organisations, whose members have got in touch with her, Kaul said.

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