Sara is a lawyer and Operations Officer in the EMEA Legal and Compliance Division at Morgan Stanley. Sara also completed her LLM by Research on Women’s Rights in Japan: A study of Violence against Women.
Firstly, I am delighted to have been invited to join the board of the Corporate Alliance. My first task is to develop the 2017-8 business plan, including our key objectives. As for all charitable organisations, funding remains a priority. As such, I have been asked, given the number of different organisations in the DV sector, what makes the Corporate Alliance different. Not only are we the only charitable organisation working on a business-to-business platform to advise companies in addressing and mitigating the risk domestic violence poses to their company and employees, but I have also seen how impactful the Corporate Alliance can be in real situations.
Others have also asked, why work with employers when you are seeking to address ‘domestic’ violence and abuse?
Firstly, employers have responsibilities towards their employees, with regards their health and safety: 5% of people enduring violence are targeted at work, through social media, site visits, phone calls and a myriad of other ways. Further, most employers are concerned about the health and wellbeing of their employees, whatever the cause.
Statics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are affected by domestic violence or abuse. That includes the approximately 30 million people employed in the UK. That means that some of your employees or colleagues are statistically likely to be or have been enduring domestic violence and abuse. But it remains a silent phenomenon – what you may see are external signs, such as absence from work, distraction at work, unusual reactions to situations (such as calls from a partner), difficulties building relationships at work, depression…etc. and these are just a few I have come across. In any one year, more than 20% of employed women take time off work and 2% lose their jobs as a direct result of domestic violence.
Therefore, statistically, your business or organisation is likely to have employees who have experienced domestic violence and abuse – but have those individuals and their experiences been dealt with in an appropriate manner, have they been supported in a way that has enabled them to remain employed and engaged?
It is worth noting that the workplace can be a safe haven, a place where the individual may be able to get the help and support they need, which once they step out of the building, is impossible.
Importantly, awareness and sensitivity by an organisation may actually help individuals understand and identify their experience as one of abuse, which is often the first step in receiving life changing (and possibly lifesaving) help. Earlier intervention can significantly reduce the impact of domestic violence and abuse, which can have long term and disastrous effects on the individual and their families. It also makes economic sense, reducing the impact on resources through work absenteeism and use of health/wellbeing services, as well as on a broad range of public services.
We work with employers to develop a framework to help meet their obligations and objectives with regards the health, work and wellbeing of their employees, whilst linking directly with the DV sector for specialist support.
I have seen the value of the Corporate Alliance’s work, how an awareness campaign allowed an individual to identify their experience and then start the process of taking necessary legal steps, recovery from the trauma it had caused and rebuilding the lives of the entire family.
By implementing small and inexpensive changes, businesses can make a profound difference to an individual’s experience of domestic violence and abuse – changes such as offering flexible working to attend appointments with support agencies, temporary changes to working times and patterns, as well as steps to create a safe working environment such as call screening.
I applaud the Government’s efforts to tackle domestic violence and abuse and call on business and organisations to play their part.