Understand domestic abuse and the impact it is having on organisations and what innovations and solutions can businesses employ to become active partners in combating domestic Violence!
Domestic abuse or violence is still a worldwide issue with 1 in 3 of women worldwide experiencing it in their lifetime (WHO). Domestic Violence does not only pose negative effect for survivors of violence and their families, but it also causes significant social and economic costs. In some countries, violence against women is estimated to cost countries up to 3.7% of their GDP – more than double what most governments spend on education (WHO).
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to spikes in rates of violence and abuse across the globe – resulting in an estimated 20% increase in domestic abuse during the crisis and 15 million new cases for every 3 months of lockdown (UNFPA). Stress, loss of income, uncertainty, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, economic hardship and lockdown measures are some of the factors which put people at increased risk during this time.
It might seem strange for businesses and organisations to address something that’s normally associated with the home. However, the issue is more prevalent in the workplace than most managers realize. Even Though domestic violence may occur within the home, it frequently follows the parties involved to their workplaces. This can result in anything from the violent attacks we see on the news, to significant losses in performance and productivity, to dramatic increases in health care costs. Domestic violence robs employees of their dignity and their health, and these issues hide in darkness until they are brought into the light.
What exactly is domestic violence?
Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. (World Bank)
While physical attacks are a common form of abuse, they’re not the only type. Domestic violence may also include any combination of threats, intimidation, verbal and emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. Most abusive relationships include multiple forms of abuse. And while it’s true that some women are abusers, the overwhelming number of cases involve men abusing wives or girlfriends.
There is need for a Nation-wide response to this crisis, with businesses playing a critical role!.
Not only is domestic abuse dreadful and a pressing human rights concern, it is also a business-critical issue with the potential for serious negative impacts to employee wellbeing, productivity, staff turnover, and the bottom line. If left unattended, Domestic violence can cripple a business or organisation. It is therefore, paramount that employers have a duty of care towards their employees, and a unique strategy to safely provide support for someone who might be in a vulnerable and dangerous situation. Amidst this crisis, businesses have to recognize the increased threat posed by domestic abuse as well as the unique challenges of isolation and remote work in order to ensure employees have the support and resources they need to remain safe, healthy and fit for work.
By taking proactive strategic measures, companies can address the impact of domestic violence in the workplace by helping managers and coworkers about the realities and symptoms of domestic violence, the steps to take when they encounter it among employees, as well as how to act on the signs of domestic violence, responding quickly and appropriately with support and assistance, and providing up-to date information about and referrals to specialist services.
In addition to developing a program to help the victims themselves, companies should educate supervisors about the realities and symptoms of domestic violence, as well as the steps to take when they encounter it among employees. Using initiatives like toolbox talks, bulletin board messages, and other steps to educate all employees can help to increase awareness and reduce the stigma encountered by many victims. Placing lists of domestic violence resources in bathrooms and locker rooms can also help in this area. organisations can make arrangements for domestic violence shelters and agencies to send speakers into workplaces as part of their outreach efforts.
Employers have an obligation to take responsibility in ensuring the safest possible workplace for their employees. Just as much as anyone would make sure that all equipment meets safety standards and employees use safe work practices, then you can and should also protect employees from domestic violence!.