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This International Women’s Day, Australian businesses can lead on domestic violence crisis

Domestic violence is a critical issue for the workplace, especially as COVID-19 continues to blur the line between home and office, whilst also driving a documented spike in violence against women.

But what are workplaces doing to address the issue? And is it really an issue for workplaces at all?

The questions come on the back of a new myth-buster from Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and Our Watch.

The resource – released in the lead up to International Women’s Day – challenges the myth that domestic, family and intimate partner violence is not a workplace issue, despite Australian business losing a staggering $1.9 billion a year due to this ‘shadow pandemic’.

Without a change of perspective, Australia’s economy may lag – when COVID-19 dictates it can least afford to – and many more women will be seriously harmed. Some will ultimately lose their lives.

Diversity Council Australia’s CEO Lisa Annese said: “It’s a myth that domestic and family violence doesn’t have anything to do with the workplace. In reality, domestic and family violence is the workplace issue of our challenging times. If an employee is living with, or using, domestic or family violence, it will have an impact on the workplace through absenteeism, presenteeism and the costs of replacement hiring.

“While workplaces may have concerns about implementing policies like paid leave for domestic violence, research shows that they have a hugely positive impact for employees and business alike, for a relatively small cost.

“But we must remember the most important statistics of all: almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, and, on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. Supporting women who experience this kind of violence is the right – the only – thing for workplaces to do.”

Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly, whose organisation collaborated on the myth-buster, said: “There has been a huge shift in the community conversation about this issue in recent times.  Violence against women is recognised as the serious and highly prevalent crime that it is, and most people understand that addressing this crisis is the entire community’s responsibility.

“We know from the evidence that violence against women is driven by gender inequality, which is deeply entrenched in society through our policies, laws, systems, workplaces, attitudes and behaviours. It’s evident in language and practices that still too often ‘blame the victim’ or minimise or excuse men’s violence.

“Given workplaces are where we spend so much of our time and have such a huge influence over our lives, it’s critical they take an active role in promoting gender equality and addressing the drivers of violence against women.

“As we’ve so often heard during this pandemic: women’s lives and livelihoods are at stake.”

Continue reading on the DCA website: Myth Busting Domestic & Family Violence at Work

This article was originally published by Diversity Council Australia and Our Watch.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion, Interchange Bench

IWD 2020: Do we still really need workplace gender equality?

This International Women’s Day, Diversity Council Australia (DCA) is challenging the idea that workplaces no longer need to address gender equality.

Drawing from academic and industry research, DCA has released an infographic highlighting some examples of where gender inequalities limit men and women in the workforce.

“Over 100 years on from the first IWD, we’ve come a long way in creating gender equality – but we still have a long way to go,” DCA CEO Lisa Annese said. “In 2020, gender inequalities continue to limit the ability of both men and women to be respected and to contribute at work and at home.

Lisa said that the research showed there is a link between messages we receive in childhood and the career trajectories we take.

“Research has shown that before they are two years old, children are aware of gender stereotypes. Those gender stereotypes influence everything from what toys children play with, to what subjects they choose at school, having life-long impacts on career choices.

“And gender stereotypes continue to hold us all back throughout our lives, for example with women taking on the bulk of unpaid caring and social pressures on men to be providers and main income earners.

“We know from DCA’s research that workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives benefit men and women. And when both men and women have access to flexible work options, they are more able to share responsibilities at home.

“Ultimately then, gender equality at work means improvements in all of our lives, at work and at home.

“So this International Women’s Day is a good reminder that we do still need workplace gender equality so we can lead more equal lives at work and at home,” concluded Lisa.

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Posted in Diversity & Inclusion