Domestic violence is personal. And while we all try to “mind our own business” and “protect the privacy and personal rights” of every individual, domestic violence has far-reaching implications. It is not just the victim’s and abuser’s problem. It is a community problem and it is also a business problem.
For the victim, their life may be in danger. And so may be the lives of their children and other family members. It may reach, perhaps, into the lives of close friends and neighbors. At Sheltering Wings, we have first-hand knowledge of how one situation involving an abusive relationship can creep into the lives of many others in the community.
The effect of domestic violence on business
What some might not realize is that domestic violence is a problem for businesses, too, and impacts the economic environment as well as personal safety and lives.
Everyone in a community or business leadership role needs to consider the following five points:
- It is a myth that the victim can escape the abuser for several hours a day because they have a job. The abuser knows where the victim works and almost 75% of victims say abusers have harassed them at work. Besides disrupting the workplace, a situation can quickly spiral out of control and become violent at the place of business. Not only does that put the victim in danger, but everyone else there, too. That puts employers in a position of security liability.
- More than one million people report a violent assault by an intimate partner every year in the United States. It is highly probable that domestic violence has touched someone in your workforce. A desire to respect their privacy often prevents employers from taking steps to educate or provide guidance for victims.
- Domestic violence impacts the bottom line. The cost of lost productivity, missed work days, and increased insurance claims adds up.
- Domestic violence has a negative influence on the culture and morale in a workplace, which affects the quality of products and services. When workers are preoccupied with something as significant as personal safety for themselves and others, their work suffers. When the performance of a member of the team falls off, it ripples out into the interpersonal relationships and morale of the rest of the team as well. Poor performance and morale is often reflected in quality of work, and therefore, products and services offered to customers.
- It is another myth that victims of domestic abuse fit into a stereotype. Domestic violence crosses all racial, socio-economic, and ethnic demographics. That, along with the emotional burden victims carry and often keep hidden, are reasons why it is so difficult to see in a business environment. You can’t always see who has been victimized.
What business leaders can do to reduce the impact of domestic violence
Proactive business leaders, like you, can immediately take two steps toward reducing the impact of domestic violence in their community.
They start by educating their employees and providing resources, support, and guidance for those touched by abuse or violence at home. Not only does this avenue bring awareness, and potentially save lives, it sends a two-fold message. First, that the company does not turn a blind eye to the issue – at home or at work – and second, that the employer cares about its workers and wants to protect them.
This message flows out into the community as well. Employees take the message into their homes, churches, and schools. It’s easy to start the ripple. In fact, if a company connects with Sheltering Wings, we can help to provide education for employees right in your workplace. Awareness is also raised for programs like Embracing Empowerment, which is held monthly in the Sheltering Wings Community Room. Open to the public, Embracing Empowerment provides education, support, and guidance regarding domestic violence for anyone in the community.
The second step a business can take is to invest in the community. That, also, is easy when you connect with Sheltering Wings. A one-time donation or on-going support is a small investment in making the community a better place – and in reducing the fiscal impact of domestic violence on your workplace and the local economy.
It’s not only empathy that victims and abusers need, it’s education and support as well. Contact us here at Sheltering Wings to learn more and discuss how we can, together, make our communities good places to live, play and work.