Preventing Violence Against Women In The Workplace

Preventing Violence Against Women In The Workplace

Men’s violence against women has a significant negative impact in the workplace, in fact the Australian Government estimates that domestic violence costs the business and corporate sector about $1.5 billion per annum and the direct cost to employers in terms of staff absenteeism, lost productivity replacement staff costs and misused workplace resources is estimated to cost $465 million per annum.

When unaddressed, men’s violence against women may also undermine an organisation’s credibility and reputation and make it more difficult to attract and retain high quality staff.

Increasing awareness about the negative impacts of men’s violence against women in the workplace may be the reason why increasing numbers of organisations are electing to go through White Ribbon’s rigorous 18 month accreditation program.

White Ribbon Australia recently celebrated the accreditation of nine new organisations, bringing the total number of White Ribbon accredited workplaces in Australia to 45, with another 120 workplaces currently going through the accreditation process.

The program is comprehensive and participating workplaces must satisfy 15 assessment criteria across three separate standards that demonstrate zero tolerance to violence against women, to be eligible for accreditation.

In addition, they must submit evidence of extensive staff consultation, staff engagement, staff training as well as new and improved HR policies and procedures.

Chair of White Ribbon Nicholas Cowdery said participating organisations are driving social change in Australia.

“With one in three women experiencing physical and/or sexual violence perpetrated by someone known to them in Australia, the likelihood of a workplace employing a current, former or potential perpetrator and one or more victims of domestic violence is high.”

“Workplace Accreditation gives employers across all sectors the means to create and sustain a working environment based on equality and mutual respect. The benefits of standing up and speaking out about men’s violence against women extend beyond the immediate office environment,” he said.

Branding as a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace occurs when an organisation provides documented evidence against the Accreditation Framework and organisations are trained to:

  • Prevent men’s violence against women
  • Refine support offered to employees who are victims of violence
  • Directly address and mitigate risk in terms of anti-bullying legislation
  • ‘Walk the talk’ in terms of aligning organisational values with action
  • Improve office safety and morale and staff retention as a result

To date, the program has reached a diverse range of organisations, from both the public and private sector, and more than 400,000 Australian employees since it began.

Data from Victoria shows that only one in six men surveyed would say or do something to show their disapproval if a man told a sexist joke about a woman at work and the accreditation program aims to empower men to speak up in the face of such behaviour.

To this end, a significant component of the accreditation process is about addressing this barrier and empowering and engaging men to advocate for changing the social norms, attitudes and behaviours that are at the root of men’s violence towards women. According to the White Ribbon website, the program works through a primary prevention approach, understanding that men are central to achieving the social change necessary to prevent men’s violence against women.

Central Highlands Community Legal Centre in NSW says the results of baseline and follow up surveys indicate employee awareness of violence against women and the associated issues has improved and there has been a notable boost in bystander intervention responses, with 70 per cent of the workplace saying they would say or so something to show they didn’t approve if they were present when someone in the workplace used sexist language to describe a woman.

Accreditation lasts for three years and applications for re-accreditation must provide evidence of a sustained commitment to the process of attitudinal and behavioural change.

Visit the White Ribbon website for more information or register your interest here.