One of the most important aspects of creating a sustainable program will be to encourage the entire company to understand why domestic abuse and violence affects business. This is often quite difficult for most people to understand, as domestic abuse is often silent, hidden and happens to other people. However, by creating a strategy that is inclusive, recognizes the linkages to company policies, health/wellbeing and diversity initiatives and includes senior management support, the path will be much smoother. There are many ways to do this:
Bring in senior management: Understand what is critical to senior management. It could be lowering absenteeism and turnover or increasing productivity. It could be addressing the health and wellbeing of employees, often lowering absenteeism and increasing productivity. It could be addressing diversity and inclusion. Being able to link the impact of domestic abuse will be critical for senior management buy in. Health and wellbeing are impacted by the mental and physical health of people who endure, witness and perpetrate violence. Diversity and inclusion are impacted as domestic violence and abuse does not happen to 1 type of person.
Often an informal meeting with HR, IT, Finance and Operations can start the ball rolling. Invite key leaders in and link to external organizations who can help with the conversation.
Position the need within the business: Domestic abuse dramatically impacts the attendance, turnover, productivity and presenteeism of employees. It is critical to make the case within the business context. Highlighting the absence rate, turnover, and productivity of an area in work will be critical. Also part of the case to make will be to take 10% of the female population, the average salary of employees and calculate 5 business days of absence and the immediate cost to business is reflected.
Making a part of the corporate culture: If the company has health fairs, have a stand on domestic abuse and one by a third sector organisation. If the company has lunch and learn sessions, diversity awareness, or other supporting people initiatives, invite a qualified third sector organization that understands the impact of dv on business to participate. Many companies have policies on respect and dignity in the workplace, as well as policies against harassment and bullying. Employee Legislation requires that an employee has a responsibility to keep an employee safe both physically and emotionally while at work or acting on behalf of the company. Work with a qualified third sector organization that understands the legal requirements and impact of dv on business to start a conversation with HR.
Be proud of the work being done: Companies often recognise work being done by innovative employees who impact the workplace culture. Encourage recognition and have senior management take the time to speak with staff about the good work being done.
Melissa Morbeck, Executive Director, The Corporate Alliance