TAG | strategic leadership
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.
This free, one hour webinar will review a series of domestic assault incidents that occurred in the workplace. The focus of the presentation will be to determine the risk factors and protective factors that can be utilized to prevent these crimes. We will investigate cases that occur in Arizona and across the nation.
This will be a discussion.
As we review these tragedies and how they can be prevented, participants will be encouraged to chat in or talk to join the conversation live.
Discussion on Domestic Violence at Work
Date: December 18, 2012
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST
Sign Up: Register here
Obesity is a growing epidemic—health care spending for obese adults is 40 percent higher than for normal weight adults and the economic cost of obesity in the United States is increasing by more than $13 billion per year; and
Six of the seven most common chronic diseases can be caused or worsened by obesity – and these six diseases cost employers $1.1 trillion annually in lost productivity.
In an interview I conducted several years ago Dr. Ellen Taliaferro stated, “Intimate partner violence and abuse usurps precious healthcare dollars. While it is true that women present to the healthcare system for treatment of their injuries, the vast majority of healthcare dollars are spent on medical visits for conditions such as pain, headaches, depression, post-traumatic stress, cardiac disease, gastrointestinal problems, etc. that result from past violence and abuse.
Unfortunately, the fact that these conditions may be caused by abuse goes unrecognized, and the patient returns time and time again for unresolved health problems. Identifying the abuse as a possible contributor can enhance successful treatment and stop the drain of healthcare dollars.”
In Stress management online Q&A for Mayo Clinic I located this information:
Edward T. Creagan, M.D. wrote: “When you’re under stress, you may find it harder to eat healthy. Also, during times of particularly high stress, you may eat in an attempt to fulfill emotional needs — sometimes called stress eating or emotional eating. And you may be especially likely to eat high-calorie foods during times of stress, even when you’re not hungry.”
It’ s no secret or surprise that stress, depression and the effects on health that Dr. Taliaferro described are all potential factors in weight gain. Which is a national epidemic. All these issues are closely intertwined and all the more reason to accept that domestic violence does affect all of us. Whether you are personally involved in a domestically violent relationship or not.
We have got to have workplaces that accept and assume an active role in eradicating domestic violence in the lives of their employees.
Most companies wait to see “obvious” signs, or experience an event in the workplace.
If it’s gotten to that point it has already been simmering under the surface, and affecting your organization. No company is immune – early intervention and prevention are the answer.
The good news is more and more leaders in high stakes positions are realizing the value of this service, particularly in this stressful time. When you are proactive, you realize that you may not personally have seen, experienced or even heard of domestic abuse in the lives of your employees. You simply realize that no one and no organization is immune.
There is a specific, yet very simple process for creating workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-after that does not have to weigh you down. Just ask us – we’ll give you the skinny on it.
It was October and the call enter employer had an epiphany: “let’s do something for all the employees to get them engaged in a local charitable cause! I have it, let’s do domestic violence awareness training. After all this IS National Domestic Violence Awareness Month – I read it in the paper!” So awareness training they did. They called a local advocacy group which did a free training for anyone who wanted to show up to the Lunch-n-Learn. The employer sat back, satisfied that they were doing something important and the community would be blanketed in the warm-fuzzy feeling that the neighborhood corporation was ready to help by donated large sums of money to keep the local shelter doors open.
Except that’s not what happened. What happened was that a four of the people who voluntarily attended the training did so because they suspected that the trauma they lived with day in and day out actually had a label, “Domestic Violence” and they were loath to identify themselves as “victims”. But what was happening at home was wrong – they said so in the training. They wanted help. After all this was a company sponsored training for the purpose of helping people, wasn’t it?
So, one by one, they went to Human Resources. And it backfired. Big time. Each of the four people thought they would get help of some sort. It wasn’t until later when they managed to learn that individually they were not alone in this dilemma did they discover they each had the same response from HR. Something akin to a cross between “deer in the headlights” and “bear on a rampage”. HR treated these people with utter lack of concern and blatantly told them they had no idea what to do and it wasn’t up to them to find out. It was, after all “a personal problem”.
Each employee left more bewildered, confused and frightened then when they came in. Because they “cat was out of the bag’ now. Have they jeopardized their jobs? Will everyone know their most embarrassing personal issue? Will their abuser find out they talked and retaliate?
My clients understand the importance of having all managers trained to recognize the signs, even the subtle ones, of abuse – before they do employee training. In addition, they participate in skill practice exercises where we experience talking with an employee that has self-disclosed their circumstances, or ones that management has had to approach due to the recognition of the very signs they’ve learned to identify. The skill practices help managers become comfortable with what would normally be considered an off-limits conversation because managers are typically unsure of what to do and afraid of embarrassing the employee. Here though, we even laugh. Not at the issue, but at ourselves. What could be more fun than making actors of ourselves and stepping out of our usual roles for the benefit of the learning experience? You can even see some scenes from these on my website.
That’s among the benefits of the workshop It Happened at Home- It Cost Us at Work. That’s the clear benefit of a subject matter expert in domestic violence in the workplace. You have the opportunity to learn how to listen and respond with empathy and offer clear guidance and resources, as a manager, without stepping into the role of therapist. That’s how you create a workplace that is Safe, Supportive and Sought-After. Who says it has to be a personal problem?
Dear readers – This blog ran previously and continues to bring positive impact to readers. That makes me glad.
This month of awareness has assisted in bringing together those who work to bring an end to Domestic Violence, as well as move forward legislation to assist victims of domestic violence. As we move forward to October and participate in activities that support in bringing awareness and memorial to this ever present issue, we aid those who are suffering everyday to bring them one step closer to safety, and a healthier life for themselves, and their family. What might be things you can do to stop domestic abuse?
In your place of worship
1. Encourage information about domestic abuse in the congregation’s programs, youth groups, marriage preparation, study groups, etc.
2. Establish a committee to promote awareness of the problem and how the congregation can help.
3. Organize a drive to collect food, toiletries, household goods and other needed items for a local domestic violence service.
In your workplace
4. Display posters or brochures (in break rooms, restrooms, or meeting rooms) to promote awareness of domestic abuse and how to get help.
5. Organize a Brown Bag lunch or other event for co-workers and invite a speaker to talk about solutions to the problem.
6. Ask what policies your employer has developed to keep employees safe from a domestic abuser who threatens the workplace.
In schools and daycare
7. Encourage the editor of the school newspaper to have a special issue about teen dating violence and partner abuse.
8. Write a paper about domestic violence to share with your classmates.
9. Educate teachers and other staff about the connection between child abuse and partner abuse.
In civic organizations, clubs or neighborhoods
10. Invite a speaker to educate organization members about domestic violence.
11. Organize a fundraising event or food/toiletries drive to benefit a domestic violence service agency.
12. Publish information about domestic violence and available resources in the newsletter.
13. “Adopt” a family seeking independence from an abuser, to assist with practical needs.
As a Citizen
14. Ask your local library to stock books on domestic violence and to set up displays to educate the public about the issue.
15. Speak out against domestic abuse: Expressing your view that domestic violence is unacceptable has a powerful effect on changing the norms that support abuse.
16. Write letters to newspaper editors or send commentaries to TV and radio to help raise awareness about domestic violence.
17. Vote for public leaders who take a strong stand against domestic abuse.
18. Call 911 if you see or hear a crime of domestic abuse in progress. Write down license plate numbers, locations, and any other information that may be helpful to law enforcement.
19. Volunteer with a domestic violence service. Organizations need help with office activities, fundraising events, technical and professional services and assistance to clients.
20. Donate used clothing and household goods to a program that gives these vital items to families seeking independence from an abuser.
21. Participate in neighborhood crime watch programs.
Source original for this article: http://www.thepaper247.com/main.asp?SectionID=23&SubSectionID=22&ArticleID=17559&TM=9137.525
bottom line · Brown Bag lunch · business · Coaching · conflict · consulting · costs · crime victim’s rights · depression · domestic abuse · domestic violence in the workplace · domestic violence prevention · employer · lawsuit · leadership development · legal · management · offender · personal safety · relationships · risk · Speak out against domestic abuse · strategic leadership · stress in the workplace · training · victim · violence
At networking events you are usually given just 30 seconds to say your “elevator speech”. So in that time you have to be pretty clear and concise on what you’re about and how your clients benefit.
My clients are CEOs, CFOs, lead Human Resource Professionals, Attorneys and Security Professionals. The end beneficiaries are all personnel in the company. That’s why I do what I do. To create workplaces that are Safe, Supportive and Sought-after.
30 second elevator speeches aside, here’s a ”punch-list” (pun intended) of what I do.
What HRE does for its clients (local and national):
- Customized training of senior management (i.e. C-suite, Legal, HR) and supervisors in state and federal compliance, financial ramifications and effective tools for recognizing and assisting employees who may be victims, or offenders, of abuse.
- Tiered trainings to provide general awareness to all employees, more specialized training for supervisors, and advanced training for members of threat management teams.
- Staff level training for recognizing abusive relationships in themselves and/or others and appropriate communication with co-workers who may be victims, or offenders, of abuse.
- Trainings consist of lecture, interactive conversation, case examples, and skill practices.
- Provide policies and procedures addressing workplace and domestic violence.
- Reviews and updates existing domestic and workplace violence policies, and ensures these coordinate with other employer policies.
- Establish relationship with the company’s Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) to vet licensed counselors who are specifically trained and competent using current and safest methods to counsel victims of, or perpetrators of, domestic violence.
- If client does not have an EAP, HRE assists in procuring one.
- If EAP does not currently have counselors who are experienced with, and specialize in victim assistance or offender counseling, HRE makes referrals to EAP through established relationships.
- Provides electronic and hard copy manual of local and national resources.
- This is an in-depth, comprehensive workplace initiative with long term results. It includes on-going consulting and interaction for sustainable change.
If you wonder at all, even a little bit, if your organization would benefit from this. Contact me. We can do a risk analysis – and we can just talk. Whatever it takes.
Attorneys · bottom line · CEO · CFO · consulting · domestic violence in the workplace · family · family violence · Human Resources · leadership development · personal safety · Risk Analysis · Security · strategic leadership · training
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