October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a good time for all of us to remember those who suffer violence in their homes every day. As many as four million Americans are victims of domestic violence each year, most of them female, of every race, every age, and every socioeconomic background. Violence doesn't always stay at home. Abusers stalk, harass, threaten or injure victims as they work. For victims, domestic violence is an ever-present reality, hurting not only themselves, but also those with whom they associate: their children, their parents, their friends and, potentially, their co-workers and business partners.
Though employers may not immediately realize the cost of domestic violence in the workplace, it can manifest in insidious ways. A domestic violence incident at work affects employee morale and can result in property damage, and even worse, employee injury. Domestic violence victims may suffer productivity loss and other problems. In short, a company's bottom line can be affected by domestic violence.
Businesses can prepare themselves against the negative consequences of domestic violence and provide support to their employees. A Guide to Employers: Domestic Violence in the Workplace, a publication by the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, provides guidelines - a business plan - for domestic violence. Its "Steps to Safety" emphasize learning what issues are associated with domestic violence and then adopting preventive actions and procedures and providing support to affected employees.
H. J. Heinz Company is one of many U.S. companies that have used the ABA Guide to develop ways to address domestic violence in the workplace.
For National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence has developed a "top 10" list of things companies can do to support awareness of domestic violence. Companies can address this critical issued by doing any one - or all - of the following:
Any one of these steps can go a long way toward putting a program in place that can help create a safe, secure workplace for employees. For their sake, and the sake of your business, it's the right thing to do.
For information about getting a copy of the Employer's Guide for your workplace, and for a brochure on safety tips, go to www.abanet.org/domviol/home.html or call 1.800.285.2221.
Thanks for helping to fight the "quiet crime" and making it clear to employees that your business will support victims of domestic violence.