Supporting women to be safe at work and home
With Tracey Leigh-Allen, Director of DV Alliance
As business owners, we feel a strong sense of responsibility for the women and men we employ.
A responsibility to their livelihoods with the commitment we make with an employment contract; to their health and safety at work with the policies and procedures we put in place; and to their general wellbeing and happiness at work with check-ins, performance reviews and promotions.
We protect them if they fall on the walk home, or get hurt in an accident on their morning commute, but what about if they’re being harmed at home?
Supporting women to be safe at work
Domestic and family violence is a critical issue that affects the whole of our society. It does not discriminate. The workplace is not immune to this abuse or its effects. In fact, did you know that many perpetrators will use the workplace as a tool to locate, stalk and harass their victims?
As employers, it is so important for each and everyone of us to consider what we can do to support our employees and contractors experiencing domestic and family violence to feel safe at work.
With two-thirds of women who experience domestic and family violence also being employed, it makes sense that the workplace is a place of safety and support. After all, we often spend more time at work than we do with our own family and friends.
And with COVID blurring the lines between the office and home, the pandemic has only escalated the issue. The Australian Government’s Women’s Economic Security Statement 2020 reports that the pandemic has coincided with the onset or escalation of violence and abuse for many women. A reportedly 4.6 per cent of women experienced physical or sexual violence since the beginning of the pandemic and two-thirds of women who experienced domestic violence since the start of the pandemic said it started or escalated prior to May 2020.
Why you need a DV strategy
Unfortunately, many employees are reluctant to disclose that they are experiencing abuse due to shame, embarrassment and fear of dismissal. At DV Alliance, we are striving to change this narrative and believe that businesses can be a driver of significant change for victims of domestic and family violence.
Implementation of tailored domestic and family violence workplace strategies that focus on education, prevention and support increases the safety and wellbeing of all staff, volunteers, contractors and clients.
The benefits of implementing a Workplace Domestic and Family Violence Strategy include:
- Improved outcomes for employees affected by domestic and family violence
- Increased safety of women and children
- Improved productivity, staff engagement and work satisfaction
- Reduced illness and absenteeism
- Reduced staff turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs
- Reduced legal liabilities
- A demonstration of the organisational commitment to supporting staff
- Raising awareness of domestic and family violence as a workplace and whole of society issue
In 2020 employers were effectively placed on notice when the NSW Supreme Court made a ruling that employers could be held responsible for domestic and family violence when staff work from home. The message is clear that liability and responsibility continues in the workplace.
Fairwork Qld recommends all organisations develop workplace policy, procedures and safety plans to support employees experiencing domestic and family violence and provide ongoing awareness and education in the workplace. To be an employer of choice, the workplace domestic and family violence policy should reflect the organisation’s unique values whilst addressing employee health and safety needs.
Time for action
Domestic and family violence policies and procedures are more than a piece of paper to tick a box; these procedures can save lives.
Domestic violence is a complex, whole of society issue that requires a whole of society response. There has never been a more important time to ensure all systems within our society are equipped to deal with the challenges associated with domestic and family violence.
Ending violence against women is everyone’s responsibility and protecting women in the workplace is central to boosting women’s workforce participation.
Tracey Leigh-Allen, Director of DV Alliance, is dedicated to empowering employers to take action in protecting women in the workplace against domestic violence. She joins us as the guest of our next FREE online masterclass on July 15 to share the strategies and steps we can take to protect our female workforce.