Employers, You Can Help!
Employers can play an important role in addressing family violence. If we start to look at it as a business issue rather than a women’s issue, there is an opportunity for real progress to occur. One in three girls and women over the age of fifteen have experienced some form of physical violence. This tells us that statistically, any large business will have family violence perpetrators among their employees. And on the other side of that is the fact that there will be victim survivors amongst the female employees.
Employers need to be mindful; perpetrators won’t self-identify and they will generally present as good blokes. So how do you identify them?
Perpetrators often feel that they are the victim of an unhealthy relationship. They are likely to present stories about their lives, relationships or families framing themselves as hard done by or unappreciated in some way. Sometimes they will tell a repetitive negative story about their current or former partner. This story will often take the form of criticisms and judgements of their partner, which may be subtle or overt.
Examples might include:
It’s important not to get caught up in his story by joining in and supporting his sense of entitlement or his false sense of victimhood. Instead, we need to listen and analyse the content of what he is saying and recognise the behaviours in order to gain a proper understanding of the situation.
Also, be mindful that violent behaviour can spill over from home into the workplace. If an employee displays aggression, violence or bullying behaviour towards his work colleagues this may be an indication that he is a perpetrator of family violence.
Employers can be proactive in this space by encouraging calling out these men on their behaviour. They can offer to engage them with counselling services and other appropriate support services. Employers can also be proactive by providing education and training on family violence. Introducing personal development workshops on family violence into the workplace is an immediate and powerful way to affect change.
An employer can also be supportive by removing barriers to an employee accessing the support they need. They can do this by providing special leave for counselling sessions or programs that the employee may be attending.
Having the conversation with an employee around family violence doesn't have to be complicated.
For example, saying things like:
"I was worried about what you were saying the other day about your wife and/or family.” Or, "The attitude you were displaying in the meeting the other day was inappropriate and it made me feel uncomfortable. I think you would benefit from talking with someone and unpacking what’s going on for you. We know of someone who can help."
Taking the approach of calling it out and coming from a place of concern, for example, "I’m concerned about you, and there are places that we can get help for you- let's do this together,” is a non-judgemental and compassionate way of showing support for the perpetrator and is much more likely to yield a positive outcome. Creating this type of space is empowering and supportive to encourage men to engage with services and begin their journey of change.
Workplace culture is often essential to men; they take their cues from other men. So, at the workplace, there are a lot of opportunities to intervene with toxic masculinity.
Masculinity becomes toxic when men feel they need to conform to rigid gender norms, which include:
- acting like a bully to maintain a competitive advantage
- avoid losing at all costs
- not expressing emotions unless it is pride or anger
- using or showing strength and aggression when dealing with a conflict
- being dominant over women
Employers calling out this behaviour and replacing it with a culture that is kind and respectful towards others is a powerful tool in the fight against family violence.
A workplace that has a culture that is kind and respectful, where it’s safe for employees, both men and women to discuss family violence, either as a perpetrator or as a victim survivor, where they know they will be encouraged and supported to access the necessary support services with no penalties or barriers has the potential to be a powerful ally for those impacted by family violence, whether they are perpetrators or victim survivors.
If you’re an employer who wants to know more, please contact us by clicking on the link below.