Lone WorkerNews

Sexism in the lone worker market

It seems incredible in 2019 that Safe Shores Monitoring is observing behaviour which could only be described as sexist – manifest in the procurement of a lone worker service.

My team at Safe Shores Monitoring has encountered in a few instances lately where they are being told either that the system is being bought because ”we have ladies which need looking after”, or conversely not being purchased because ”we have a man doing that job now”. Sometimes only female workforce members are being considered for protection. Why is this?

Nor are female managers exempt from this trend. Shockingly, it appears that the comments derive from both sexes, with female managers equally adept at applying the same stereotypical approach. In addition, the culture seems to be spread across organisations and encompassing all tiers from middle management right through to the c-suite in some instances. Larger companies tend to be better and some have exemplary working practices, but regrettably, they are not wholly exempt.

A lone worker risk assessment which identifies a need for PPE or lone worker protection services such as an App or Alarm Receiving Centre should be gender neutral. With very few exceptions (i.e. mental health applications), a risk assessment with a foreseeable risk of violence from a member of the public, or from someone you may have never met before, does not magically disappear simply because of the lone worker’s gender. Equally, assessments of slips, trips and falls, working at height, personal health conditions, working late nights or operating over difficult terrain, are also gender neutral. I can personally attest to feeling more than a little apprehensive when entering someone’s private domain without the benefit of a full background check of the address, the other occupants, and potentially the neighbours.

But….is this truly sexism at work, or is there some other issue? For example, has the policy been rushed through, or not considered properly? Is the risk assessment accurate or inadequate? Have the staff been fully consulted within the purchasing process?

More worryingly, is there a culture issue? Are you a female lone worker and do you benefit from a lone worker service which your male counterparts do not have access to? Are you a male lone worker who suddenly feels superhuman while at work? Or do you feel less safe than your female counterparts when lone working?

It’s an interesting situation, don’t you agree?

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