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Opinion: Domestic violence is in your workplace. Now what?

Truth Be Told

Posted online

Look around your office and notice your co-workers. Data from the national Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence find that 1 in 5 of full-time employees have or are facing domestic violence. That means you are likely to sit by someone, work alongside someone, manage someone or be led by someone who knows the trauma of abuse in their home.

In our Focus section this week, we’re covering Wellness. It’s fitting that this issue coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the local iCare movement to bring awareness to domestic violence in our community. More than ever, holistic employee wellness is tied to conversations on measuring employee success/satisfaction and great workplaces. Domestic violence is a direct attack on people’s health and well-being, which creates an indirect impact on our workplaces.

In companies across the nation, 8 million workdays are lost each year due to intimate partner violence, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Society for Human Resource Management and the Workplaces Respond organization report that domestic violence costs the U.S. economy $8.3 billion a year. That factors in health care costs, missed days of work, lack of productivity and the deaths of employees.

For survivors of domestic violence, these organizations found 60% report losing their jobs and 96% say their work performance suffered as a consequence of the abuse.

While workplaces feel the impact of domestic violence, I believe they also can be a part of the solution. Our businesses can be a safe space where someone can go and ask for help without setting off alarm bells with their abuser. As an employer, you don’t have to have all the answers, but a bit of education, connection and support can make all the difference if – and when – this moment arises.

At this year’s iCare kickoff event, Harmony House unveiled a pledge that provides best practices and commitments employers can take to make a safe space for employees to access life-saving resources. I’m honored to co-chair Harmony House’s iCare awareness and fundraising campaign again this year and ask you to read this pledge below and consider implementing these principles into your workplace.

The iCare Pledge
This company takes the health and well-being of our employees seriously, and it is our responsibility to ensure a safe and productive work environment for everyone. This business has taken the iCare pledge to do the following:

  • We will do all we can to create a work environment of mutual respect and safety. It will be clear that harassment or abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.
  • We will raise awareness of domestic abuse among our staff and within the community and strive to educate individuals on the dynamics of abuse.
  • We will develop company policies to assist employees who may be experiencing domestic abuse and will review current policies to ensure they are supportive and inclusive.
  • We will facilitate, at a minimum, one DV in the Workplace training each year as appropriate for our business.
  • We will educate staff and members of leadership on how to provide support to a co-worker who may disclose abuse.
  • Our response to the discloser of abuse will be:
  1. To believe and validate disclosures of abuse.
  2. To educate by distributing information and resources.
  3. To refer the individual to relevant resources.
  4. To support those experiencing domestic abuse through specific workplace policies that address employee leave and performance.
  5. To provide a safe and secure workplace and identify actions employees should take in response to threats of violence at work.

Springfield Business Journal Executive Editor Christine Temple can be reached at ctemple@sbj.net.

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