By Maggie Saalman
All around the world, womxn and transgender people are continuously facing issues in the work force. Why is that in the United States, womxn make up over half the workforce, yet they still make 84 cents to every male dollar (Gould)? Why is it that womxn of color face hurdles based on a coworkers’ twisted beliefs, attitudes, and experiences? Why is it that the unemployment for transgender workers is three times higher than of the U.S. average (Bellis)? All around the world these issues and more are becoming increasingly prevalent and because government officials are refusing to help, companies will be the ones to start making progressive moves in the workforce.
One company that has started to be very progressive since early 2019 is Zomato. Companies who are progressive, are those that are favoring change and reform. They want to make improvements in order to have better conditions for workers and become more inclusive of new ideas. Zomato is a food delivery service in India that takes pride in its innovative inclusive practices. In 2019, Zomato released universal paid parental leave for a minimum of 26 weeks. Not to mention, each new parent receives 1,000 USD per child. This move has made it so that all parents are getting the support that they need – all genders alike. Now, both parents can be at home with their children for a long period of time and they also will be able to provide their children with extra supplies because of the $1000 given to them. Because workers are not losing their salary, Zomato is creating a work environment where employers feel wanted and supported. Recently, Zomato has made another progressive move that has gone viral on social media.
Introducing: “Period Leave”
As of August 8, 2020, womxn and transgender employees of the company Zomato will now have a paid “period leave.” This time entails 10 days off a year and one day can be used each menstrual cycle. The company says that the reasons for this move is to foster a work environment that builds trust and acceptance amongst coworkers. The founder and CEO of the company, Deepinder Goyal, makes this announcement on the Zomato blog by saying,
“Zomato understands that men and womxn are born with different biological realities. It is our job to make sure that we make room for our biological needs.” The blog continues to explain that “there shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to applying for a period leave.”
With Zomato creating this opportunity for womxn and transgender workers, they are exempting them from being uncomfortable and in pain while at work. A study conducted in 2019 by the British Medical Journal Studies, explains that menstrual symptoms can be linked to losing about nine days of productivity per year. Now that womxn and transgender workers will get this time off, it can happen in the comfort of their own home with no pressure of completing work. Although Zomato is not the first company in India to start this, they are the largest and most influential. This company has started to bring light to the issues that surround womxn and transgender people in the work force and are making strides to create equality.
Taboo in India
This step for Zomato is especially important because it is starting to break barriers that surround menstruation. Although menstruation is natural it is surrounded heavily by taboo and myths in India. In many parts of the country, someone who is menstruating can be considered dirty and impure. Many girls can not participate in day-to-day activities and are banned from certain areas of the house until their menstruation symptoms are over. Outside their home, the stigma follows them too. Most girls don’t know what menstruation is until the first time they see symptoms and this lack of support has made it so over 30 percent of girls that live in North India actually drop out of school when they start to menstruate. This is because of the embarrassment they feel and the lack of support that is given at home and in schools. Also, many stores do not carry period products in specific parts of India because shopkeepers do not see a high enough demand for them. Society makes it so womxn and transgender people in India are ashamed of their period and Zomato is trying their best to reverse it.
This menstrual taboo is rooted within a Hindu mythological text called Rig Veda. In this text, an evil being named Indra killed Vrita: a water demon that was supposed to be providing water to the people during a drought. Indra drowned himself in guilt so he went to womankind and asked them to take his guilt away. Every month, when womxn and transgender people menstruate, his sins are washed away in their blood. The consequence of this text is the ancestral ideology that has been passed down through generations. Even in 2020, taboo and myths continue to affect people in India and by Zomato creating a “period leave,” the silence and shame surrounding a menstrual cycle will hopefully change to become more normalized and accepted. Zomato, a company that is made up of 35% womxn (transgender percentage not released), is attempting to show that womxn and transgender people should not be ashamed about a natural part of their life. Not only is the company allowing “period leave,” but the company is also putting in place a sexual harassment team to respond to anyone who is giving the employees taking a “period leave” a difficult time. Menstruation has created a barrier for some people in the workforce because of the painful symptoms and Zomato is working hard to break them down.
Although some may see this move as progressive, not everyone has been supportive. People have taken this matter to Twitter to explain that this move is not as helpful as it may seem. Some twitter users suggest that this 10 day leave is creating more gender discrimination within the workforce. One user said, “at the end they will force male employees for more work to compensate for these 10 days leaves. This way Zomato loses nothing but more work pressure on male employees…” Another user explained, “Men should get an equal number of leaves too, so they can take care of their partners.” Not only is there backlash regarding gender discrimination, but people argue that this gives employers a reason to not employ womxn or transgender people.
Understandably with any big change there will be backlash, but among some negative tweets and positive tweets are also surfacing. Many argue back that this is an opportunity for womxn and transgender people who are suffering through extreme pain to take the time that they need. One user simply states that if you don’t have painful periods, then do not take the time off. It is that simple. Goyal has yet to comment on this conversation, but it does seem that since Zomato is a company known for making active choices to become more progressive, the “period leave” is here to stay and it will continue to try to improve the lives of womxn and transgender people who choose to use it.
Looking to the Future
For the workforce to be completely inclusive, more companies and corporations will need to start creating new rules and regulations. In order to fight other issues that womxn and transgender workers face, companies need to not only start implementing these measures, but governments will need to start fighting to destroy the widespread discrimination against womxn and transgender people. Specifically for transgender communities, non-discrimination laws must start to be introduced. Countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Fiji, Malta, and the United Kingdom are just some countries who have already started to guarantee equal rights no matter a person’s gender. Other countries must start to adopt these principles to make it so the transgender communities will not have to face these discriminatory issues anymore. There also needs to start to be shifts for womxn and the transgender community so that biases in the workplace can be broken, occupational segregation can be diminished and that the salary gap that womxn have can become obsolete.
It is important to appreciate the work that Zomato has done to become more inclusive towards womxn and transgender people, but also note that these progressive movements are far from over. When we look towards the future about these issues, it will be crucial for other companies and corporations to start to make more inclusive changes to regarding parental leaves, menstruation, pay gaps and more in order to break barriers in the workforce.
Zomato is an Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery start-up founded by Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah in 2008. Zomato provides information, menus and user-reviews of restaurants as well as food delivery options from partner restaurants in select cities. (Wikipedia)
Maggie is a 16 year old rising senior at Valhalla High School in New York. She is a writer for Zenerations and is very excited to use this platform to make changes in the world today. She is the President of her Human Rights Club at school and is also an ambassador for Our Future Of Change which is a coalition bringing awareness to human trafficking. She also is the captain of her all girls robotics team and is fluent in American Sign Language. Maggie is passionate about STEM, pop culture, and intersectional feminism. In the future, she wants to work in the medical field and travel the world while doing it.