Why workplaces need to deal with domestic violence

Woman in shadow with hands over her face

Marking the upcoming International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, observed November 25, we revisit a recent Gender Equality Network event exploring the important role workplaces can play in tackling domestic violence.

Our Watch research reveals that, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. And one in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of their significant other. The overwhelming majority of these acts are perpetrated by men against women, although this data often doesn't even begin to touch the scope of violence in LGBTIQ+ relationships, which DCA explores in a recent podcast episode

Regardless of the situation, the workplace is one of the few places where victims of domestic violence can be safe, seen and heard. And at one of DCA's 2019 Gender Equality Network events, called 'Workplace approaches to preventing domestic violence', Our Watch's CEO Patty Kinnersly issued a challenge to leaders across Australia saying,

“Domestic violence doesn't belong to governments, or individuals, it belongs to all of us. No single system can solve this. Workplaces are a key part of the solution.”

Patty identified gender inequality as a key driver of abuse, and outlined themes common to business: male decision-making at expense of women; rigid gender stereotypes that allow men to control what and how women act. 

To move forward, she said we need to celebrate gender equality in both public and private life, and she outlined a structure Our Watch pioneered to put domestic violence at the heart of the corporate agenda. Key elements include:

Committing to a starting point, where employees feel safe. This involves policies and procedures for reporting domestic violence.  Training managers in the issue, offering leave, including an Employee Assistance Program with expertise in family violence, and dealing with a perpetrator who may be on staff.

Allowing the right conditions for gender equality to flourish, by embedding gender equality in your recruitment, remuneration and promotion processes; and letting men and women utilise flexible work options equally, without penalty.

Using culture to manage and measure. This is the part where you prioritise and plan domestic violence policy, and integrate it into the workplace culture. With working groups in the organisation, from all parts of the organisation, make sure people know that gender equality is embedded in your DNA and will be managed and measured, up to and including dealing with domestic violence.

Listen to our podcast on violence in LGBTIQ+ relationships

Catch the full Workplace approaches to preventing domestic violence event on demand

See Our Watch’s full Workplace Equality and Respect process


Join the conversation

* Required information