Onward: Better Work Jordan’s efforts to enhance gender equality in the global garment industry

3 Apr 2018

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, held earlier this March, and as part of Better Work’s global efforts to empower women in the garment industry, Better Work Jordan profiles five graduates of the organization’s three-day “Supervisory Skills Training” (SST) programme to celebrate their journey to success.

3 April 2018.

Amman – By increasing the number of women in the workplace, economies flourish. This sentiment is especially true for Jordan, where equal participation in the workforce would yield an estimated USD8 billion increase in the Kingdom’s GDP according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Independent research conducted for Better Work indicates that when women succeed, workplaces are more safe and prosperous, productivity levels rise dramatically and workplace injuries significantly diminish. More women in the workplace also translates to higher levels of compassion, and where company morale increases, businesses will further succeed.

In an endeavor to further encourage female empowerment, Better Work Jordan is encouraging female participation in the organization’s Supervisory Skills Training programme. According to an independent study conducted by Boston-based Tufts University, the series of trainings, which addresses rights, responsibilities, and professionalism in the workplace, was found to create more empathy among supervisors and boost overall productivity rates. Additionally, workers of supervisors who have taken the SST programme are actually less likely to experience an injury at work.

From the left Hiba and Rana garment factory supervisors, Jordan 2018

For five leading women, their journey through the SST experience influenced them on both a professional and personal level. “The skills I learned at the workshop not only helped me at work but in my day-to-day life. I am able to communicate more effectively, and I know how to handle stress – mine and others,” shared Rana Smadi, a supervisor at a garment factory in Jordan. “I feel like a wiser person after completing the programme, I know how to choose my battles. I know which issues to address and which situations can be overlooked to focus on the bigger picture,” she added.

Effective communication was also listed as the favorite acquired skill by supervisor Muna Fawaz. “Working in a diverse environment requires the ability to choose the best way to connect with your workers. We interact with people from different cultures and as such it is essential to make sure that your message is understood. ”

Previously reported issues of shouting and verbal abuse were greatly reduced by programme graduates, “Learning to speak in a low voice and refraining from shouting are two skills that I learned in the programme. You need to display leadership to your workers, but shouting is not the answer,” explained supervisor Hiba Mamlouk.

“As women, we are burdened with domestic responsibilities that can affect our mood and productivity in the workplace. It is not always easy for some women to switch off when they come, you can see them performing poorly. Instead of getting angry, I found that having a short conversation with them, saying encouraging words, and trying to find a solution helps a lot. Empathy is a sign of strength!” said supervisor, Ruqayyah Al-Ananzeh.

When asked if they felt that the programme would encourage their career development, all five women said that these types of programmes are of great use. “Professional training of any kind is always welcome. I want to continue to get promoted at work; my dream is to move up in my job,” said supervisor Iman Al-Zaghoul. “My family was so proud of me, they encouraged me to take part in the SST workshop and were very supportive,” she added. “We want to instill this kind of motivation in others, some workers have limited aspirations, they just come to do their job and go home,” said supervisor Muna Fawaz. “My advice to all women is to be proud of their work! I always tell my husband he could never do my job,” added Iman Al-Zaghoul.

By recognizing and utilizing the strengths that women already bring to the workplace, empowerment is created by giving them the freedom and the ability to create their own schedules, learn new skills, and gain self-confidence. The result: female employees who feel more valued, supported, and empowered.

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