Gender based violence is a topic that doesn’t get the attention it needs. Until society does not change its mindset, the cycle will continue. Whether it is ignoring the cries of your neighbour who is beaten every week by her drunken partner or not making your best friend aware of the toxic traits in her partner, if the conversation around this is not happening it is a concern.
In the workplace the conversation around gender-based violence hardly ever comes up. There are talks around harassment and other work place issues, but the same effort is not being made around gender-based violence. Policies and procedures should be in place so that businesses play their part, but surely more must be done to highlight the responsibility people have around the awareness of gender-based violence.
If your staff members witness an act of gender-based violence on a customer, are they to sit silently and not assist? What about when a colleague comes to work with marks from a beating from their partner? How should this be addressed?
It’s starts in the workplace.
Majority of our time is spent in the office with colleagues, it is for this reason that the topic of gender-based violence should be encouraged. Identifying the issues and having a conversation around it is exactly what is needed to get staff more aware of their responsibilities.
The reality is a staff member who is a victim of gender-based violence can have an impact on their work. The staff member won’t be focused on completing their tasks, they would be distracted and always afraid to participate or engage in the office.
This is when you need to improve the way issues around gender-based violence is addressed in the office.
Here are a few ways to improve the way the conversation and awareness takes place:
- Try to get your staff to feel comfortable to speak to a trusted HR representative who would be able to assist them with the right advise and necessary guidelines to deal with their personal situation. You need to ensure the HR personnel comes with a background of high EQ. This will give staff the confidence to approach a confidant in the workplace to assist with issues around their personal and mental wellbeing.
- Ensure your business has flyers and posters up encouraging staff wellness programmes. This will help staff feel encouraged to speak about any of the issues they are facing be it at work or in their personal lives. This can also help staff members encourage their colleagues to seek the help they need.
- It can also be helpful to get staff to sign up for in house training programmes on how to manage situations around gender-based violence. Training plays an important role in getting employees out of the box in terms of challenging situations and how they can tackle it. Host training around wellness and how to prepare to deal with customers in a situation like this. Training can also be used to give staff the right strategy to apply when they are faced with circumstances of gender-based violence.
- If you have policies and procedures in place, try and get them updated regularly and host workshops or seminars on how staff can be more in control on their personal matters. Investing in staff wellness goes a long way in improving productivity. Policies and procedures must be reintroduced and regularly discussed to give staff a sense of awareness around what the business is doing to combat a serious issue like this.
The reality is that potential perpetrators of gender-based violence could also be in the workplace. Having a platform that educates and makes individuals aware of the seriousness of the issue can helps remedy the way they conduct themselves. There are no guarantees that this will change their mindset but it would educate them on how they should change their behaviour and potentially treat their female partners with respect and dignity.
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African Corporate Training Provider & National Learning Institute. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute.
The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.
Tel: 011 262 2461 | 083 303 9159 |