There was a recent campaign on social media called the Black Dot Campaign.
The campaign has recently been shut down because of various criticisms around safety. I want to talk about some of those criticisms and what corporates can do to safely help victims of domestic violence in their workplaces.
The message of the Black Dot Campaign was that if you saw someone with a black dot on their palm, you should call the police because the person is in a domestic violence situation and they are in real danger.
Safety issues of the original campaign
On the surface this seems brilliant. The trouble is if the people being abused and others know about this, then so do those abusing.
I know if I was still in an abusive relationship, it would become the least safe thing I could do. Having this visible sign on my palm was proof that I was going to break the code of silence . That would have been too scary.
But it got me to thinking: where would something like the black dot work?
The equivalent of the Black Dot Campaign in the workplace
I realised the only place I really had any real time to think and reach out for help was at work. I asked myself: what could employers do to create a safe and private way for employees to disclose that they need help?
But that comes with its own challenges because on top of the fear of breaking the code of silence within the relationship comes the fear of breaking the code of silence at work.
Why it would improve the company’s bottom line
When I worked in corporate, one of my tasks was to analyse the bottom line so I knew full well the impact of employees under-performing. Professionally I wanted all key personnel at optimum performance because I knew the effect a delayed project had on the figures and ultimately the bid price. A drop in share price was never a good thing. My job was to work out ways to see that predicted revenue was realised. That was the most important thing to me as a professional because I knew that the company’s bottom line affected each and every employee.
Personally as someone who was an abusive relationship, I found it distressing the amount of people I know who have or are in abusive relationship, it makes me sad. But my professionally I think, “wow that is costing employers a lot of money”.
As a pragmatist, I can see that not only adds to the company’s bottom line but to the consumer because if it is costing more to produce a product of service, then it is costing the consumer more to purchase. I know this is not a view of domestic violence that is easy to think about. But think about it we must because employers really are in a position of power when it comes to being a game changer in the uncomfortable, grey murky waters of domestic violence.
What would such a campaign at work look like?
So what is the employer’s equivalent of a black dot? That would vary depending on the company but surely it is better for all concerned that there is a way to get people to reach out for help. A good place to start would be to create a company culture where talking about abuse whether domestic or workplace is welcomed, where staff are trained to know how to communicate and be supported as they do.
I am solution focused and I believe it is time to change the conversation from how terrible the domestic violence statistics are – although it is impossible for me to deny they are – to how do we solve this. I honestly believe that employers will play a key role in bringing about positive change. They will not only benefit their employees but also their businesses.