International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

How inequality poses significant challenges to working conditions and productivity in SMEs

A supermarket chain’s success story in kickstarting awareness and dissemination of information through ILO SCORE’s Gender Equality Module

Article | 24 November 2021
Gender equality creates equal opportunities for men and women in SMEs. This is particularly important in economies with large gender gaps and persistent problems of violence and harassment. One such case is of Peru where gender inequality poses significant challenges to working conditions and productivity in the labour market. This International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, let’s take a look at how a Peruvian company is moving in the right direction to make its factories more inclusive, safe and free of violence.

Supermercados Peruanos S.A. is a company in Peru with more than 14 years of operations in the local market. It has more than 20,000 employees distributed across 600 plus stores in 18 regions nationwide.

The company was looking to adopt an inclusive strategy to improve working conditions, hire more talent and improve productivity on their factory floors. With this in mind, they chose the ILO SCORE’s Gender Equality Module and implemented it in 2019 and 2020 in its Logistics Centre. The company formed 6 diverse groups under RAYMI – its Diversity and Equality Program to address ‘Workplace Harassment’. Comité RAYMI has 42 members from different levels and units to implement all training activities in 15 key areas.

In 2019, a baseline assessment was conducted as part of SCORE’s Gender Equality Module to know existing perceptions and experiences around gender equality within the company. The results of this assessment were later socialized among staff members.
“Since March 2019, it was proposed as a strategy that the implementation of the (SCORE Gender Equality Module) be carried out in the Logistics Centers, given that the proportion of men vs. Women was 80/20 - quite masculinized independent units. In the collection centers, participation of female is almost zero. SCORE’s surveys identified stereotypes in which there were preferences, and which did not allow promotions for pregnant women and workplace communications. There was the perception of preferential treatment towards men."
Lía Celi
Sustainability Manager

With almost two years of SCORE intervention, Impacto Positivo recently conducted a study to measure and analyse the changes in staff perceptions and experiences. A total of 320 staff members participated in it, the results of which are two-fold: first, since 2019, the company has successfully created new spaces for participation, and dissemination of information. Second and more important, it has uncovered areas where challenges to gender-based violence and harassment continue to persist and require attention on priority.

SCORE Gender Equality Module in improving information dissemination

Since SCORE implementation, Supermercados Peruanos is noting promising change in terms of promoting information on gender-based violence, harassment and stereotypes among men and women. More than 90 per cent of men and women by 2020 (95 per cent of women) were familiar with the company’s policies on detecting and preventing violence and harassment. They were also well-informed about the company’s complaint protocols in instances of violent behaviour. As such, workers of Supermercados Peruanos now not only have greater awareness about different types of violence and harassment, but also increased levels of security against them within and outside work.

Also encouraging are results related to sexual provocation, consent and constraints to professional growth in 2019 and 2020. More than 90 per cent of men and women reported safe work climate (free of pressure) where they could reject inappropriate sexual requests without compromising on their professional growth. In fact, almost all men and women (95 per cent) said that they did not receive sexual advances of any nature by senior staff in exchange for work benefits.

What is more? Today, women workers in Supermercados Peruanos are increasingly rejecting gender biased beliefs related to care responsibilities. “Care and nurturing are a shared responsibility between women and men” was a statement that all women workers agreed with during the survey. Not just this, about 85 per cent of women also agreed with “Yes, a man is just as competent to take care of children” in place of only 75 per cent in 2019.

These are shining examples for why socializing initial diagnosis as part of SCORE Programme and curating trainings based on company needs are critical in fostering awareness to fight deep-seated stigmas and realizing equal treatment and respect within and outside work.

SCORE Gender Equality Module in improving women’s economic opportunities.

Decades’ worth of ILO work shows that unequal power relations, misplaced pay incentives and organizational tolerance increase concerns of sexual harassment and violence. This learning was intrinsic to SCORE’s intervention in Supermercados Peruanos too, which took active first steps in promoting economic opportunities for women and addressing related stereotypes.

Women’s participation in decision-making, in 2020, went up by 21 per cent, and more women (2 per cent increase) were also noted to be contributing to ideas of improvement within the company. Workers today also know more about their salary compositions, where 5 per cent more women have knowledge of their salary break-up and respective discounts. These efforts have had visible improvement in women workers’ confidence and self-esteem, which ultimately enhance their capacity to respond to and prevent incidents of harassment and violence.
Action Plan at Supermercados Peruanos
“They decided to modify brochures including images of women to participate in the Collection Centers. When they made the massive call managed by Lourdes, Coordinator of Human Management Retail, they realized that majority of those interested were female. The idea was that they be part of the team, for which in the first month, they will be accompanied to learn all functions and adapt well.”

What about harmful, internalized biases that affect women’s professional opportunities on a daily basis? The study indicates positive findings – as high as 98 per cent of women workers agreed with the statement “sex does not determine your intellectual capacity or interfere with the quality of your contributions”. Many also turned down the stereotype that women contribute less to work than men who often tend to “get to the point”. In case of treatment of pregnant women too, more women (11 per cent increase) said that “if (a pregnant woman) is the best candidate, (the company) will promote her”. And almost all women (95 per cent) reportedly faced no discrimination or harassment post returning to work from their maternity leave in 2020.

Supermercados Peruanos has made impressive strides in unlearning harmful social beliefs and overcoming mental biases such that new moral attitudes are increasingly gaining ground among men and women workers. Having said that, there still exist other forms gender inequalities within the company that threaten women’s safety and security even post SCORE Training. Taking stock of these gaps is critical; it brings to attention the more persistent problem areas in the company which require continuous attention and improvement.

SCORE Gender Equality Module in identifying key areas of improvement

Improvement Area #1: More women in the survey reported unwanted physical contact, violation of privacy in dressing rooms and inappropriate messages about them in company bathrooms. There was also an overall increase from 2019 to 2020 in physical, psychological and economic violence against both men and women within their inner circles (family/partner). In fact, SCORE intervention realized that risks of exploitation at home had a visibly negative impact on their performance at work. This provides a strong case for cross-cutting efforts to counter violence and harassment not just within but beyond the factory floors.
“Through SCORE surveys it was found that 30% of women in the logistics centers (3/9) were people who suffered from violence at home. SCORE has really had a positive impact where workers know the communication channels, so they feel that they are not alone.
On behalf of Supermercados Peruanos, there is the commitment to provide psychological accompaniment to people who have been victims of cases of violence and can take 5 days off from psychological recovery.”
Lourdes Hidalgo
Coordinator of Human Management Retail

Improvement Area #2: More workers today fear threat or harassment from a fellow colleague at their workplace. Number of men and women who earlier reported to never being threatened or harassed at work has also come down. While this can be associated with greater levels of awareness resulting from SCORE Training, it also calls for new and innovative steps to address existing safety concerns of all its workers.

Improvement Area #3: The study showed more men (greater than 4 per cent increase in 2020) yielding to and in some cases perpetuating stereotypes on women’s capabilities, appearance, consent (“no means yes”), contribution to household income and division of care responsibility. In this case, masculinity workshops may help in deconstructing seemingly harmless beliefs and practices that benefit men over women. Equally important is to revisit current initiatives and company policies which seem to be falling short of raising awareness among men and women both.

Improvement Area #4: Quantitative data collected through this survey on key indicators related to conditions lived by workers and the company’s ability to manage gender equality and improvements gained through SCORE Training, plays a significant role towards addressing gender-disaggregated data deficiency in the company. To further these efforts and open up newer opportunities of improvement, quantitative data collection may be complemented with qualitative data.

SCORE Programme’s Gender Equality Module focuses on creating equal opportunities for men and women. This training module was developed in 2018 to design instruments to identify and prevent discrimination, harassment and violence in the workplace. It focuses on five key issues: voice equality, inclusive hiring, equal pay for work of equal value, work climate and work-life harmony. You can know more on: MIG SCORE : Gender Equality Model explained (

Impacto Positivo has been providing management services for ILO SCORE’s implementation in Peru since 2020, in particular with SCORE’s lead buyer model.