TAG | employees
By guest contributor Erika Evans
President Obama announced Friday that he will sign the expansion of the Violence Against Women’s act to include lesbians, gays, transgender people, Native Americans and immigrants after Congress voted 286 to 138 in its favor. Vice President Biden noted that there has been a 64 percent drop since he first wrote and pushed the bill in 1994.
Even if there is evidence that there has been a decrease in domestic violence there will never be a time where we should stop addressing it. The Center for Disease Control did a report in 2011 that states that 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.
The Violence Against Women act website states that there has been an 11 percent increase in the reporting of domestic violence over the past 10 years. This is proof that addressing the issue has made progress. Also, we have only just begun to acknowledge domestic violence and intimate partner abuse in the work place and need to push forward with doing so to ensure the safety of employees and their right to work in a protected environment.
The only way we can continue to make progress is to keep laws, prevention programs, employment policies and education in place and to address domestic violence in society past, present and future.
In a program I recently did I received a comment from an attendee “That was an excellent presentation of the issues and what HR professionals should do. Now how do I get pursued my top management to institute your programs?
Wow. The million dollar question. And more commonly asked of me then you would think. The answer is…wait for it…it depends.
It depends because assuming “top management” can all be painted with the same brush and be motivated by the same things is to embark on an endless battle.
While I’m not saying it has to be a battle (though in some cases it seems to have been) you have to look at the many reasons why a top manager might be motivated to institute a program and then address that motivation.
Here below are what I have found to be the top motivators. There is no particular order to the list:
They agree with the principle that if you help the offender you help the victim – and they know the workplace is made up of both.
A couple points to note:
• At least one million women and 371,000 men are victims of stalking in the U.S. each year. Stalkers often follow the victim to the workplace.
• Up to 52% of victims of domestic abuse have lost their jobs because batterers typically engage in behavior that makes it difficult to work.
They are responsible for ensuring State and Federal Compliance.
• The EEOC has issued guidance for employer compliance.
• Occupational safety and health laws generally require employers to maintain a safe workplace, which may include a violence-free workplace.
• The Americans with Disabilities Act or state disabilities laws may require job accommodation of a victim of domestic violence who is or becomes mentally or physically disabled.
• Family and medical leave laws may require employers to grant leave to employees who are coping with serious health conditions resulting from domestic violence situations
They are concerned by and aware of the bottom line costs of domestic violence.
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence equals $727.8 million, with more than 7.9 million paid workdays lost each year.
• The national health care costs of domestic violence are high, with direct medical and mental health care services for victims amounting to nearly $4.1 billion.
• Human Resource Essential has developed a proprietary formula which calculates a company’s losses due to domestic violence in 11 separate functional areas of the organization. We provide this breakdown as a service to our clients.
They want to have their or their company’s name attached to something which generates public approval.
• Across the US there are small businesses, corporations, government agencies that are already addressing domestic violence, with great success.
• Some companies that have instituted programs include SCFAZ, Verizon Wireless, Blue Shield of California, and Liz Claiborne, Inc., to name a few.
They have experienced DV in their own lives and or feel deeply that as a public health and community issue it’s the right thing to do.
• Pure and simple – it is. Enlightened executives know they can no longer look the other way.
The above list could go on. I could have lengthy bullets of facts and statistics. What I’ve illustrated above is only a minimal list of the reasons we should address domestic violence in the workplace and the reasons we might motivate an executive to institute a program.
I wish I had a concrete answer for the program attendee who asked that question of me because it was a great one. Some people will never change, the will never care and they will never “stick their neck out” to address the taboo and stigma of domestic violence in order to do something about it.
You know the kind- the ones that don’t have to “buy into it” because they’re already sold.
It’s an honor to be participating as a panelist at this discussion. I’ll represent employers and provide advice on measures they can take to prevent abuse, what employers can do and what policies can support their employees.
I hope you will make time next Saturday to attend this important event in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – and all the Amy’s out there.
consulting · conversation · crime victim’s rights · domestic abuse · domestic violence at work · domestic violence awareness month · domestic violence in the workplace · domestic violence prevention · employees · family · personal safety · training · victim · victim’s rights · violence
Have you ever watched a TV commercial and knew that you just had to buy the featured product? Did you eat at a restaurant just because a friend raved about the food? Did you take a vacation to a place your sister had a fantastic time at first?
That’s the same idea behind workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-after. These are the businesses, big and small, that have built reputations for being desirable places to work.
Studies have shown that employees don’t leave a company, where they feel appreciated, just to earn a few pennies more somewhere else. The same is true for seeking employment.
It’s not pennies that keep someone in your employ, nor is it pennies that make them select a job at your location in the first place.
Companies are sought-after because of the positive way they treat their employees and for what they stand for. They’re also sought-after for what they won’t stand for; like domestic abuse.
When your company is committed to the health and safety of employees and to a supportive workplace environment in which employees feel comfortable discussing domestic violence and seeking assistance for domestic violence you will be the very definition of Safe, Supportive, and Sought-after.
Wouldn’t you agree?
A lot of emphasis is placed on employers to provide a safe working environment. OHSA requires them to do so through its “General Duty” clause which, to paraphrase, states that every employer must provide a workplace that is safe, healthy and free from known hazards. My guess is that many employers do so only because it’s required and that they fear possible OHSA citations for failing to do so.
But is that enough? I don’t have to cite statistics and quote numerous articles on the subject of employee to convince you that organizations that also pay attention to employee self-esteem, morale, and confidence levels reap the benefits of a stronger workforce, enhanced reputation and reduced turnover that organizations that expect their workers to leave their personal issues at home.
That’s not to say that employees are encouraged to bring troubles to work. It’s simply saying that to expect all employees’ personal issues to evaporate the moment an employee clocks into work is completely unrealistic. Managers and executives should have stopped thinking that way decades ago as there’s been too much documented to prove that’s not going to happen.
Since the workplace is literally where employed individuals spend more time than anywhere else it’s also the likeliest and often the best place for employee to get the help and resources they need.
When it comes to domestic violence spillover to the workplace here are a couple examples of total failure on the part of the employer:
In my book Bringing the Darkness into the Light (available at www.hressential.com/Resources) I interviewed a woman named Jennifer, who was stalked by her boyfriend and threatened at work. She said, “I was fired from my executive-level position because I was stalked at work and determined to be “a danger to others”.
Jennifer told me it took two years and a complete change of careers before she found work again, and that was at half of her previous salary.
This past May I was interviewed by reporter John Toughy of the INDYSTAR who wrote:
In Indiana, Domestic Violence Can Pose Dilemma for Employers
After her boyfriend beat her and threatened to kill her in October, Kristianne Rouster was issued a protective order that prohibited him from contacting her in person, on the phone or by text.
Because such orders routinely include the workplace, Rouster told her employer, Pitney Bowes.
Within a month, she was fired.
He continued to illustrate that Rouster is suing Pitney Bowes and “The lawsuit seeks $100,000 in compensatory damages and 100,000 in punitive damages.”
From his article:
“What is the cost to a company’s reputation? What kind of message does it send to other victims at the company or in the workforce?” said Angelo, owner of Human Resource Essential. “Plus you lose a good employee, and it costs money to replace them.”
Angelo said the best companies have workplace violence committees composed of employees who have received special training. They know how to talk to victims and assure them that they’re in a safe place to talk about it. The companies have comprehensive and unambiguous plans. “The workplace is sometimes the safest place these victims will be all day,” she said. “lf you fire someone, you leave them out there to be far more vulnerable.”
On the flip side, when I interviewed Lorel for Bringing the Darkness into the Light (available at www.hressential.com/Resources), I heard about her experience when on a weekend her husband insisted they go to her workplace to retrieve the paycheck she left there and the violence he launched on her while in the building. She found out later that her boss was there to do work and had witnessed part of the attack. Later he contacted her privately.
Lorel said, “My boss assured me privately that no matter what decision I made about this that he would back me up. When I returned to work on Monday there was a newsletter on my desk from the Family Advocacy Center with a help line phone number on it. I decided to call. With the information and assistance from the Center and my employer I was able to come up with a safety plan, file a police report, get an order of protection, file for divorce, get my son and our things and leave.
Here are some tips and accommodations you can consider to assist an employee who is a victim of domestic violence.
First establish an open door policy for staff members to talk and discuss concerns. You might find that employees raise concerns about a co-worker or self disclose their own connection to domestic violence.
This is where specific domestic violence training, such as It Happened at Home – It Cost Us at Work is invaluable. Make sure that managers understand the problems that victims, and even offenders, are dealing with. Remember, it is the manager’s or executive’s job to listen; not to counsel, and to accommodate the employee so that they are safe to do their job.
The best way to ensure that a victim’s interests are protected is to meet with the victim. You should discuss strategies that you believe are needed to protect them and plans you desire to implement to protect the staff.
• Give due consideration and accommodations to employees who are victims of domestic violence. Bear in mind your state may also have specific mandates regarding leave of absence and other laws.
• Modify their duties, assignments, or work sites, especially if the perpetrator and the victim are employed at the same work site.
• Refer the employee to Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), to shelter services and to domestic violence hotlines; both state and national numbers.
To have your questions answered about how we create workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-after, please contact me at (480) 726-9833, Stephanie@hressential.com
Years ago I worked for a hospital that had a division that was a physician billing company and we had an employee whom I’ll call “Dee”. Dee came forward to me in the HR office and said that she was going through a very, very difficult divorce and that her husband was actually stalking her and waiting outside of her door to her house all the time. He was threatening her and threatening the safety of their two young boys who were only three and five years old. And he was also threatening to go to court and say that she was an unfit mother. She was scared that she was going to lose custody. She was scared for her safety and the boy’s safety. As you can imagine that would make it really hard for her to concentrate on the job.
I called my counterpart in Human Resources, a woman who I’ll call “Mary”, who had the same job that I did, but at another division and what Mary and I did was create a job transfer for Dee so that she could go to Mary’s division and work the same hours and get the same pay and do a very similar job to what she was doing for us. And that would really be helpful for Dee because money was critical. That was the one thing that would help her get back on her feet and away from her husband and successfully get divorced and be able to support the two boys. But then when, and if, the husband ever came to our workplace and looked for her we could truthfully say “She’s not here anymore, and she doesn’t work here.”
The night before Dee was supposed to transfer a couple of her co-workers came to me in my office and said, “Did you know that Dee was sitting out in her car in the parking lot crying her eyes out?” I said, “Well no, I didn’t know that.” I went out there and I tapped on the window, Dee rolled the window down and she’s crying, that kind of sobbing crying that probably all of you have done at one time or another when something horrific was happening. I said, “What’s going on Dee?” and she cried, “I told that other HR manager I didn’t want the transfer, and she screamed at me and she said, ‘do you know the hoops that I jumped through to get you this position, do you know the time it took me to create this job for you!’” Dee was just absolutely mortified. And I was stunned, stunned that a human resources professional, somebody like you, somebody like me, would have the audacity to re-victimize Dee in the manner that she did. Here Dee was fearful for her life as it was, feared for her children’s safety, and just because this woman had really an ideal situation, happily married, and no children, and just because she couldn’t really understand these situations and wasn’t putting herself in Dee’s shoes, that she only thought about the time it took her to create this position. She didn’t think about Dee at all.
I was mortified, and that was a real turning point for me. Although I had worked in human resources for many years and had other issues with employees that were dealing with domestic abuse and also grew up with it in my own life. That was really one of the moments, for me, was the intersection for helping HR managers understand the business case for addressing domestic abuse at the workplace. And I don’t know why Dee didn’t want that transfer. I never really asked her, but I’m going to guess that it’s because she knew that if she stayed with us we would validate her and we would do whatever we could do in our power to keep her safe, which is exactly what we had demonstrated by trying to get her that transfer. And the good news about all of that is we didn’t have to replace Dee we were able to retain a really, really valuable employee. It’s all about making your workplace a safe place to ask for help. And, it’s things like that, those small changes that have really big positive results that each one of you can do in your own workplaces as well.
How has your workplace succeeded? What could be improved? If you have comments and suggestions on how to make your own workplace a Safe Place to Ask for Help I’d love to hear them.
domestic abuse · domestic violence at work · domestic violence prevention · Domestic violence training · employees · Human Resources · management · personal safety · Safe place to ask for help · strategic leadership · training · victim
A friend of mine spent months, all last winter in fact, dodging the bullying, badgering and intimidation of a male coworker. She wasn’t alone. Several of her coworker’s requested shift changes and altered job duties to avoid this man. And it wasn’t just women who were suffering. This anti-social bulldog was every bit as ruthless with men. He seemed to want to sabotage every relationship he had.
But for one. Because they always seem to need an ally. Someone who will believe them incapable of wrong and who will help pave the way for future damage. In this case it was a female coworker. We’ll call her “Wanda”.
So when the co-worker’s abuse finally came to a head and formal charges were filed against this jerk, “Jerry”, he fled the state. And guess where he stayed? In another state at the home of Wanda’s extended family.
While the police grappled with getting Jerry back to town. The employer grappled with what to do with Wanda. Clearly she had enabled this man to abuse several members of the workplace. And those that suffered were mad as hell and talking class-action suit (much deserved in my opinion).
So what’s an employer to do? Not much, unfortunately, because they weren’t prepared. Their workplace policies and procedures were written around the time cell phones still looked like bricks and hadn’t been updated since. They had nothing to protect them, nothing in writing to reinforce that Wanda’s actions were wrong and terminable offences. Tisk, tisk, tisk.
It doesn’t have to be like that. Progressive companies have a policy to promote a safe environment for its employees. They are committed to working with employees to provide a work environment free from violence, threats of violence, harassment, intimidation, and other disruptive behavior and they would include language in the policy that outlines all employees’ responsibilities to prevent workplace aggression in all its forms.
Let me know when your company is ready to protect itself from the Wanda and Jerry’s who put you and every one of your coworkers in jeopardy. If you’re going to dodge something all winter, wouldn’t you rather it be a snowball?
Last weekend I was joyfully out taking photos with my Nikon and attached 70-300 “long” lens. If you’re familiar with this camera and lens combination, you’ll know that the total weight is almost 1 ½ pounds. About to drive to a new photo op, I got into my driver’s seat, and lifted the camera off from around my neck by the strap. But it didn’t go. That lug of a contraption swung back toward my chest and as I lifted the strap I chunked myself right under the chin. It snapped my jaw shut and sent my upper teeth right through my bottom lip. Aye yi yi! That hurt!
“Crud!” O.K., that’s not really what I said, but you get the gist. I had no time to waste so I sucked it up (blood included) and continued on my journey. Fortunately, I was headed to an ice rink. Great! I could get ice on my lip. No, not from planting myself face down on the skate surface! I went to concessions and asked for ice in a napkin. Clearly the vendor had seen his share of rink accidents; he pulled out a baggy instead and filled it up. Ahh, relief. I was mortified though. My lip was swelling and I resembled a cowboy with a mouthful of chewing tobacco. To my utter horror, the area below my lip was taking on a deep purple hue. And I had tickets that night to the theater with a four star dinner beforehand.
I readied myself with one liners for each time I had to explain to someone what happened to my lip. I just knew people would goggle and stare. “What happened to YOU?” they’d say. I’d hear it over and over again.
But I didn’t. In the week’s time that it took for the swelling to subside and the bruise to fade, not one person asked how I’d been hurt. No one asked if I was O.K. No one said a thing. Certainly it can’t be because they were worried about embarrassing me more regarding my lack of grace and coordination.
Ah, the irony.
In training, I dialogue with managers and employers about the importance of asking if someone is O.K. The managers and I spend a significant about of time on skill practices and the pros and cons of various dialogues and questions to ask employees. Like does the person need assistance finding resources, would they like help getting out? People who are victims of abuse need to know someone cares and they are achingly waiting for someone to reach out and offer an ear of concerned listening.
I’m really lucky; it was my own klutziness that decorated my face with a fat lip. But what if that wasn’t the case? Go back to my most previous blog Six Steps to Safe Environments to Ask For Help and read up on talking to someone who is a victim of abuse. It can make a word of difference to someone.
As for me, my lip is healed, but my pride still hurts. Maybe I should go back to my little pocket camera.
camera · Coaching · collaboration · consulting · depression · domestic abuse · Domestic Violence · domestic violence in the workplace · employees · Nikon · personal safety · team work · training · violence
When the Human Resources manager called to describe the female employee’s resistance to discussing the abusive husband who kept showing up at the workplace; making his presence in her life achingly obvious with emails, phone calls and stake-outs in the parking lot.
“She won’t talk with me.” said the manager. “She clams up.” They asked me to meet with the woman on their behalf, thinking that a neutral outsider could encourage her to help.
So we sat down, the Human Resource manager, the employee and me. And that’s where I got my big surprise. The manager barked an order at the woman that she “has to” meet with me. The tone of her voice was angry, and insistent as she gave her a directive, “You will talk with Ms. Angelo until she says you can go!” Ouch. Quite frankly that answered a lot of my questions as to why this woman was so reluctant to talk.
When you are a domestic violence victim, discussing the dynamics of your relationship is very, very complex. We have written about that in other blogs. Let’s focus now on how to create safe environments to ask for help for victims of domestic violence.
1. Start with your room environment. Invite the employee to talk with you in a place that’s quiet and not where everyone can see you talking. Have water and tissue boxes available on the table. (Some say you should not hand a tissue to someone crying as it sends a subliminal message that they should stop. Instead ensure they can easily reach tissues on their own).
2. Be an “active listener.” This sends the message that you are genuinely interested and respect what they have to say. Give your full attention and comment on what you think you heard. If you did not understand what was said, ask for clarification. Ask open ended questions that do not convey judgment. For example you can ask, “Could you tell me more about that?”, “What do you mean he has a temper just like his father?” “What happened next?” “Would you like help getting out?” “May I give you a list of resources and phone numbers?”
3. Be positive and have an upbeat tone of voice. No one likes to listen, or open up, to someone who is grumpy; smile. Show enthusiasm and be positive when having conversations with victims or suspected victims. I am not saying that you should make light of their trauma. Just don’t wallow in it either. Empathy not sympathy. Maintain eye contact without staring. Nod occasionally and lean forward slightly.
4. Offer guidance that addresses the person’s problem, behavior, or concern. Do not criticize for wrong or bad behavior; instead develop an action plan to help the victim (or offender) change the situation that’s unsafe and/or affecting their work. Talk about strategies they can use in difficult situations. Discuss hypothetical scenarios such as what he/she can do if they are in an unsafe situation and hopefully avoid getting into dangerous situations. Remember though, this is based on offering resources, like shelter information, hot-line phone numbers and your Employee Assistance Provider (EAP). It is not to suggest you act as their therapist.
5. Maintain and enhance self-esteem and self-respect. People with positive self-esteem are more likely to reach out for help and accept the help that is offered. Where victims are concerned try to remember that the batterer, or offender’s, greatest ally is to minimize and strip their victim of self-worth. Most victims have been told so often that they are unworthy that they’ve come to believe it. You can help replace lost self-esteem.
6. Know your limitations. The reason clients seek me out for domestic violence training, is that it raises Domestic Violence Intelligence. Know that there are times that a subject matter expert can ensure you address the situation correctly and help safeguard your from making a mistake that could violate compliance or land you in hot water. If you are attempting to get your employee to seek help from experts, be the first to set an example and seek help yourself.
active listener · Coaching · depression · domestic abuse · Domestic Violence · domestic violence in the workplace · Domestic Violence Intelligence · domestic violence prevention · Employee Assistance Provider · employees · employer · human resources director · management training · personal safety · Safe · self-esteem · Sought-after · stress in the workplace · Supportive · Therapist · training · violence
Statistics show that:
13% of Americans are likely to have heart disease1
Almost 20% of Americans are likely to have diabetes1
One in eight women or 12.6% will have breast cancer1
One in six men will develop prostate cancer1
As of 2006, the CDC reports that an estimated 36,828people per 100,000 are infected with HIV2
More than 200,000 people — are unaware they’re infected3
If American adults have come to accept these facts, as the vast majority of them have, then why is it still so hard to accept the fact that 85% of women and 15% of men are victims of abuse? Just like the above health statistics we understand there are a number of unreported cases so the numbers should be higher that what you see presented.The same is true for domestic violence.Lastly, when you think of the above noted health statistics you know that until someone’s illness is really in advanced stages you will probably never know someone is ill just by looking at them. The same is undeniably true with domestic abuse.
You don’t know when someone is suffering. You have to have reached a point of trust where the victim is comfortable enough, and feeling safe enough to open up to you. You need to be personally at a point where you understand enough about the dynamics of abuse that you can approach someone you suspect is victimized without jeopardizing their trust and personal safety.
I once had the VP of Human Resources of a very large international organization of 58,000 employees worldwide; boast to me “it doesn’t happen in my company, I never hear about it.” Well, sadly that’s statistically impossible. Even more sad was the fact that this VP didn’t have his ear to the ground enough to even know what was going one in his organization.
Do any of your employees exhibit any of the following?
- Become quiet when he/she is around their partner or ex-partner and feel afraid of making him/her angry?
- Cancel plans at the last minute?
- Not have access to money?
- Have their attire dictated to them?
- Stop seeing friends and family members, becoming more and more isolated?
- Explaining bruises to family, coworker’s or friends?
These are only a few of the possible signs of abuse. No one is immune from domestic violence and there are many available resources. Like the VP of Human Resources I mentioned, you don’t have to see it or hear of it for it to be happening and I’m available to help your organization by visiting:www.hressential.com
Check out other resources too like The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence http://www.ncadv.org/
2Centers for Disease Control
3Kenneth Mayer of Brown University
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