People are often surprised when I say I am gender neutral when it comes to finding solutions to the impact of domestic violence on the workplace. The majority view tends to be that gender is the major driver in domestic violence; and of course there is no doubt whatsoever gender plays a significant role – the statistics speak for themselves.
But gender is not the only issue, and it is not the best way to approach policies and training in the workplace to educate and assist employees in coping with and understanding domestic violence.
Why? Because the average workplace is gender neutral. It’s made up of male and female employees. To form policies and approach training in a gender divisive way will instantly alienate one or other sex. Domestic violence is complex, and we need to be inclusive when it comes to policy creation and training. We cannot hope to build workplaces that engage in positive action when it comes to understanding domestic violence if we are disengaging employees and management.
By being gender neutral in our solutions we can:
- talk about the abused and the abuser in a constructive manner
- understand more than one perspective, which involves re-education for abusers as well as respect, assistance and support for survivors
- not apportion blame based on gender
- roll out training in a way that engages rather than isolates employees on every level.
This is how workplaces can and will be a big part of the solution.
Companies are in a position to lead the way on conversation, attitudes and actions to solutions. By doing this, they are creating an environment which reflects an understanding of its people; that they know and accept domestic violence is wrong and believe it has no place in society. That both company and employees feel those who use the division created by talking about the problem, not the solution are in fact perpetuating abuse.
I say it is time to start taking action in the workplace. There has to be a sustained, objective, gender-neutral approach to policies and training for employees to understand and be educated on the impact of domestic violence. The problem isn’t going away. But until companies take the emotion out, and use their corporate power to implement complete and appropriate strategies and training, there will be no real benefit to them or their employees. Unemotional does not mean unempathetic – it just provides clarity to move forward and understand all the issues around domestic violence. It could be said unemotional is the new caring from a corporate perspective.
Workplaces are exactly that; places of work. So let’s treat this as a business proposition – for the good of employees and workplace relations, and take it from there.