03 December 2015

Work’s Role in Domestic and Family Violence

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How many of us have been told to leave personal problems at home? When you step into work, you leave the argument with your teenage daughter at home. If you’re hungover, don’t let it show. Insomnia? Tough luck for you, but your boss doesn’t care.

This is all very true – and it’s called being professional – but there is one major exception to this rule, one personal issue that an increasing number of bosses want you to discuss at work: domestic and family violence (DFV).

Last week, members of the Male Champions of Change (MCC) – collectively employing 600 000 employees in Australia – got together with KPMG and developed a ‘practical guide for workplaces looking to respond to domestic and family violence as a workplace issue’.

The MCC comprises of a group of powerful and influential men advocating for gender equal communities. In a letter to ASX-listed organisations, the MCC stated that ‘Gender inequality is both a cause and consequence of domestic violence. We realise now that we can’t champion gender balanced leadership without addressing domestic and family violence, whose victims are overwhelmingly women’.

According to KPMG, 1.4 million out of about 11.5 million Australian women are living or have lived in an abusive relationship. Seeing as 800 000 of these 1.4 million women being abused are in the paid workforce, it is hardly surprising to know that DFV has a considerable impact on the Australian economy. Indeed, KPMG estimates that domestic and family violence will cost Australian business $609 million annually by 2021.

So what does workplace response and intervention to DFV look like?

According to Elizabeth Broderick, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission and Chair of the MCC, workplaces can prevent perpetrators from using work resources – such as emails or phones – to carry out their abuse. Without going into concrete details, Ms Broderick also states ‘workplaces assist in keeping employees safe, providing economic independence that supports women’s choices, and playing a leadership role in the community’.

KPMG has put together a three-level model of implementation that offers practical actions and guidelines that organisations can follow:

Level 1 – Making a start

The first step for organisations – of any size – is awareness and beginning to understand how they can make a difference. Organisations should focus on demonstrating a broad commitment to gender equality, ensuring those who disclose their experience of violence are safe at work, and that employee referral pathways and assistance are available.

Level 2 – Getting serious

The transition to the second level happens when organisations move from initial awareness and uncertainty around the issue, to an acceptance of domestic and family violence as a workplace issue impacting safety and productivity. This involves communicating domestic and family violence as a workplace issue; communicating that support is available; equipping managers to implement policies; providing additional paid leave to employees experiencing violence; and providing guidance on dealing with perpetrators via workplace policies.

Level 3 – Integrated

At the third level, organisations work to continually improve the ways they support those impacted by violence and establish the workplace as an active partner in a whole-of-community response to ending domestic and family violence. Organisations join forces with their customers, suppliers and communities to create a culture where domestic and family violence is unacceptable.

To read the full KPMG press release, please click here.

To read the Playing Our Part report, please click here

Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!

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