Melissa Morbeck, CEO of The Corporate Alliance, one of UK SAYS NO MORE’s partner organisations, explains why it is so important for employers to take positive action to support employees who endure abuse and violence. Find out more below:
Is it really a personal issue? Employers taking positive action to support victims of abuse and violence
Domestic violence and abuse are phrases that frighten not only victims, but also family members, children and, well, most of us. It is a silent epidemic that many employers we speak to believe it is a personal issue and has nothing to do with being an employer or will be affecting work.
At The Corporate Alliance, we work with employers, large, small, public and private sector, faith based groups, civil servants, schools, universities and any employer wanting to take positive action to help an employee. We find that employers want to do the right thing but often do not want to step over the line and take on a personal issue, fearful of liability, making a mistake and stepping one toes. Lots of employers do wonderful work around wellbeing, stress in the workplace, physical activity and mental health support.
Employers support employees who are bereaved, who are battling cancer, who have childcare issues, who are taking care of their parents. It is a silent epidemic that many people, especially in their workplaces, shy away from speaking about. Yet why is this so hard?
“8.5% of women and 4.5% of men have experienced domestic abuse“
It is hard because we do not want to admit that we have no idea what to do, we are embarrassed, we are frightened to make a mistake, that we do not want to be responsible for another persons’ life, and quite frankly, do not really want to hear such frightening and horrific victimization. In the last year, 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men have experienced domestic abuse, equivalent to an estimated 1.4 million female victims and 700,000 male victims. With over 30 million people working in England and Wales, people who endure, witness and perpetrate abuse are working. One-third of all domestic violence homicides happened on work place ground.
In financial terms, it costs UK businesses £1.9 BILLION per year in lost productivity and absenteeism. This figure does not address the emotional and psychological toll of coercive control. And 2% of all women in the UK will loose their job due to the effects of abuse and violence.
“Business leaders can become the agents of change”
So what can we do? Business leaders and employers must understand that this is an issue many of our employees deal with on a daily basis. Business leaders have an opportunity to put in place accredited schemes to support their employees, train key stakeholders how to support victims, enabling them to see direct support services, legal support, child care, forwarding phones and a myriad of other steps that protect all staff including victims. Talk about the work being done in their business with other business leaders and why it is a critical part of success, to support employees so they can be part of the vital work being done.
Business leaders can become the agents of change, working in partnership with accredited organisations like The Alliance, and strategic partners to learn about this epidemic, what they must do legally to safeguard the victim and all members of staff, learn how policies help but are not the panacea, the role of EAPs and liability, how to train line managers to be supportive and empowering, and how to make sure their employee is valued for the work they do, not what they endure. They can support direct service organisations to keep vital work alive.
Our work is dedicated to saving lives by working with employers and business leaders to take positive action. We have seen time and time again that by taking positive action lives are saved. Every business we work with, every victim we learn about, has stayed in work and not had to leave financial empowerment. Their families are safe. Their work is rewarded.
We want to work with every business leader, creating a call to action for all of us to step beyond being uncomfortable and fearful and take positive action. Contact us for more information. You never know, the person you work next to, who is your best employee, may be the person who wants your help without knowing how much you want to give. Help is closer than you think.
Thank you to Melissa for contributing this blog.
Melissa Morbeck is CEO of the Corporate Alliance.
Interested in becoming a partner of UK SAYS NO MORE?
We’d love to hear from you, please get in touch with Lyndsey Dearlove, Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Partnership Manager.
You can contact Lyndsey by email at Lyndsey.Dearlove@hestia.org or by phone at 020 7378 3170.