Domestic Violence in the Workplace, Part I
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
In a study conducted by the CDC in 2010, it was found that over $70 billion is lost each year due to violence in the workplace. $64.4 billion was due to lost productivity and the remaining $5.6 billion was health-care costs related to the violence.
Most businesses will give a second look when shown how violence affects their bottom line. Unfortunately, when it comes to domestic violence issues, even showing the costs to loss productivity, health-care costs, loss future business, and loss of a good name, many business leaders still don't believe that they may have victims (survivors) of domestic violence in their midst.
The sad reality is that domestic violence is real and it does affect businesses. Typically, the victim is female (though there are male victims), and it is the female that is typically attacked at the workplace by her abuser. Since domestic violence is all about the abuser having control over the victim, the abuser knows the work habits of his victim. He knows what time she goes to work, what department she works in, and even where she parks the car.
If the abuser feels that he is losing control, he will often go to the workplace to gain back that control--- often through the use of violence. He may take the life of the victim, the lives of her co-workers, and then ultimately, his own life. It plays out on the evening news way too many times.
What can you do about it?
The first thing that you as an employer can do is to take a free, one-hour class from your local domestic violence advocate or shelter. Almost every community or a community near by has a domestic violence advocate. Learn all you can about recognizing domestic violence. You'll learn that domestic violence is not always visible. Your employee won't always show up with a fat lip and a swollen eye.
Next, adopt a domestic violence policy. There are templates online. Basically, the policy will spell out that what domestic violence is and that it will not be tolerated. It will also offer resources for the victim of domestic violence. When this policy is explained to everyone in the company, you can count on having some employees seeking more information. The fact that you include the policy is a big step in providing help for the victims of domestic violence.
Finally, you can assign a point person. Provide a go-to person for the victims of domestic violence to go to when they need help. This person doesn't have to play psychologist or be an expert in domestic violence, but simply be there to provide resources. This person serves as a liaison between the victim and the resources. Simply a person to point the way.
There are other things that can be done to help victims of domestic violence while helping protect your business. Please take these first steps. You really don't know who is a victim, but providing these three things will help victims to come forward when they are ready to.