Female employees, persons with disabilities neglected; sexual harassment prevention policies absent in 50% workplaces, says survey
A retail sales module and competency standard developed under Brac Skills Development Program (SDP)’s PRIDE project is the first retail sales module in Bangladesh to be accredited by the Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB).
Brac recently conducted a baseline survey to create employable skills and decent work opportunities for the marginalized youth.
Commissioned by Brac’s Skills Development Program (SDP) under the "Progressing the retail sector by improving decent employment (PRIDE)" project, the survey was carried out by Innovision Consulting Ltd.
Funded by IKEA Foundation and UBS Optimus, the survey interviewed 720 retail sector employers and employees in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Sylhet.
Survey findings were unveiled at ‘The future of skills and employment in the retail sector’ webinar, organized by Brac’s SDP on Tuesday, said a press release.
The survey found that retailers in Bangladesh are reluctant to hire women and persons with disabilities because of safety and security issues, and the perception that they have limited capacity to endure physical strain.
Only 2% of the retailers are willing to hire persons with disabilities. Just half of the workplaces have policies to protect their employees from sexual harassment.
Retail employees work an average of 11 hours a day in a single shift. Apart from annual leaves, maternity or paternity leaves are usually not granted.
The survey also revealed skill gaps of salespersons engaged in the sector. 68% of employers said their salespersons are unable to meet their sales targets and 64.6% mentioned that their sales staff has inadequate knowledge of their products. 54% of employers observed a lack of communication skills in salespersons.
On the bright side, most workplaces are equipped with safety equipment — 93% in Sylhet, 82% in Chittagong, 72% in Dhaka, and 56% in Khulna.
98% of the retailers in Chittagong, 92% in Dhaka, 89% in Khulna, and 56% in Sylhet have arrangements for their sales staff to access adequate light, air, and safe drinking water.
The webinar was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, head of business development and strategy of SDP. The panelists were Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac, Shaheen Khan, CEO of Gemcon Food and Agricultural Products Ltd, and SM Shahjahan, deputy director of Bangladesh Technical Education Board.
Shaheen Khan said: “There needs to be a cultural and mindset shift for people to come and join in retail be it management or non-management level. A large chunk of entry-level employees move frequently within the sector, which is a major challenge. Employees need to receive training regularly to gather skills, but it must be a continuous process.”
Potentially employees will not be interested to gather skills if he/she does not get enough incentive. Brac and partners can work together [to] arrange training for them so that potential candidates join the workforce after being skilled, said Asif Saleh.
SM Shahjahan said, “Recruiters must develop a hierarchy showing the entry level and destination of a potential candidate, which will discourage recruits to frequently opt for a job switch. Trained people getting preference in entrances will help develop a training-oriented culture in the sector. Also, training completion certificates must be provided so that the employer can judge skills while hiring an employee.”