Saying No To Violence Against Women In The Workplace

Saying No To Violence Against Women In The Workplace

The statistics on violence against women are horrifying and overwhelming and it can be hard to try and come up with a concrete strategy for supporting women who are the victims of violence and cultivating a policy of zero tolerance of violence against women.

However, statistics demonstrate that employees strongly believe that employers have an important role in educating employees about respectful relationships and it’s not acceptable for employers to sit on their hands on this issue, no matter how tricky it is to tackle.

Workplaces can have a powerful influence in ending men’s violence towards women as well as supporting women experiencing or escaping violence, but what does this actually look like in practice?

According to the White Ribbon Organisation workplaces can:

  • offer pathways to support by creating a culture that encourages women to disclose their experiences of violence, including referral to appropriate support services and offering domestic violence leave
  • provide a source of income and financial independence, especially if a woman decides to leave the abusive relationship
  • create a zero-tolerance environment that responds to sexual harassment in the workplace and holds perpetrators to account
  • provide information to employees on what to do when they see or hear about violence, abuse or harassment
  • promote gender equality: conduct a gender audit, offer flexible work arrangements and critically examine the different roles men and women play in the workplace.

Another more formal way to address the violence against women is to participate in the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program, an organisation-wide commitment to stopping violence against women. According to White Ribbon, there are 178 accredited workplaces across Australia and the program has reached more than 600,000 employees since its inception in 2013.

To become accredited, organisations have 18 months to participate in a two-stage process.

In the first phase organisations are required to:

  • Participate in a webinar and complete an online organisational profile
  • Disseminate an employee Baseline Survey with a target response rate of 30 per cent
  • Establish a White Ribbon Working Group and appoint a senior manager responsible for program roll out
  • Undertake a gap analysis against the framework and endorse a Statement of Commitment

In the second and more substantive phase organisations must demonstrate adherence to 15 criteria across three standards:

(1) Leadership and Commitment

(2) Prevention of Violence Against Women and

(3) Responses to Violence Against Women.

In November 2016 NorthParkes Mine became the first mine in Australia to become a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace and since then the company has taken an active role in preventing and responding to violence against women.

In fact in October, NorthParkes hosted 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, founder of the Luke Batty Foundation. Speaking to the Parkes Champion Post People, Safety and Environment Manager Stacey Kelly said Ms Batty visited the company to share her story and to further educate employees on the effects of family violence.

“As a large employer in the Central West, it is important to Northparkes that they help break the cycle of domestic and family violence by supporting initiatives that improve the wellbeing of the community in which they live and work.

“Our journey towards Zero Harm Operations is a relentless focus across every aspect of our operation and our local community and our commitment to raising awareness and our approach to domestic violence is an important part of this philosophy, “ she said.

According to White Ribbon this commitment is a key component of what it means to become accredited: organisations must acknowledge violence against women is a serious and preventable problem and take a proactive approach in preventing violence and promoting respectful relationships, by equipping staff with the information and resources they need to address violence against women in the workplace and the wider community.

While the moral and social benefits of taking a proactive approach to addressing violence against women are manifold there are also a range of business benefits. In addition to the opportunity to drive cultural change the business advantages of participating in the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program are plentiful and include:

  • Improved staff safety and morale leading to enhanced productivity, employee retention and reduced absenteeism
  • Best practice processes to support employees experiencing violence
  • Improved staff awareness, attitudes and behaviour about violence against women
  • Mitigation of risk in relation to anti-bullying legislation
  • Improved reputation in professional networks and increased public confidence in the organisation
  • Enhances the potential of becoming an Employer of Choice

Learn more about the White Ribbon Workplace Accreditation Program here.