By DIANA AL-JASSEM & NADEEM AL-HAMID | ARAB NEWS
Published: Apr 7, 2012 00:00 Updated: Apr 7, 2012 00:00
Long working hours, customers rudeness fail to deter sales ladies. Despite the growing numbers of women working in lingerie and cosmetic shops, some saleswomen are still facing peer pressure. With the shops trying to train and appoint women salespersons and shop assistants during the Labor Ministry mandated grace period the businesses are still facing a shortage of trained female personnel. The reasons vary.
The ministry has given a grace period of six months to feminize lingerie shops and 12 months to feminize shops selling cosmetics along with other goods. Despite initial hiccups lack of trained personnel, long working hours, transportation issues and overcoming social taboos the ministry is viewing the change as positive. Assistant Undersecretary for Development at the Ministry of Labor Fahd Al-Takhaifi confirmed that the ministry aims to achieve total feminization of the lingerie and cosmetic shops and boosting economy.
The order created a suitable environment for women to work comfortably besides boosting the nationalization of jobs. It helps economic progress because it is instrumental in generating a large number of jobs for women, he told Arab News. The move also prevents the flow of a considerable part of Saudi investments outside the Kingdom because the employer and the employee are both Saudis, he said.
Asked about shops that refuse to employ women in lingerie shops, Al-Takhaifi said: We did not come across any objection from investors or shop owners about the new regulations during the workshops on the implementation of the order issued by the ministry. Most of the questions posed by the shop owners were about the method of implementing, the order and the government assistance and training for the employment of Saudi women, he said.
Kamal Osman Jamjooms establishment is in the forefront of hiring Saudi women in stores. For example, the company in its brand cosmetic store, Mikyajy, is implementing the plan to feminize all these brand stores in the Kingdom within three months.We are working to hire 400 Saudi saleswomen in our stores around the Kingdom, said Khalid Al-Yafei, retail manger at Mikyajy. He added: Well hire female staff in 128 stores in different regions such as Riyadh, Jeddah, Laith, Jazan, Al-Ola, Asir, Makkah, and Al-Qunfudha. In addition, we are planning to open new 16 stores.
He said the replaced salesmen have been transferred to other brands, regions and countries. The replaced number of youth, estimated around 210, have been transferred, and not fired, he said, adding, We dont want to fire any of our staff, we transfer them to other areas. Some of them moved to work in another brand, and the expatriate workers to other GCC countries. According to Al-Yafei, many saleswomen still suffer from the social stigma of working in shops. But he hopes that this too will pass away. Saleswomen do face difficulties, but these would go away once society accepts this new leap in the labor market, he said.
The major problem facing saleswomen today is transportation. Saleswomen find themselves forced to pay about SR1,000 to SR1,400 monthly to drivers. Ahmad Nabil, retail manger at Nayoumi in Jeddah, confirmed that 450 Saudi saleswoman have been hired in all Nayoumi stores around the Kingdom. In about 90 lingerie shops around the Kingdom, about 150 salesmen were replaced by 450 saleswomen. Our ex-salesmen had been recruited in other brands belonging to KOJ establishment, he said.
He confirmed that saleswomen who are working in small villages faced societys anger especially in the first months of their work. In contrast, women working in Jeddah and Riyadh suffered transportation difficulties. Women in both cosmetic and lingerie shops confirmed that they face transportation difficulties and this is outside the companys purview, Nabil said. However, he added, that some steps have been taken to solve the transportation problem like asking the woman job seeker to opt for the city and district where she would prefer to work. This data helps us find nearest work location, for our staff, if possible, he said.