Domestic Violence in the Workplace
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and ILR’s Scheinman Institute and Worker Institute are presenting a joint webcast, Domestic Violence in the Workplace, on Oct. 7 focusing on the impact it has within organizations and how they can be proactive.
Panelists will include Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio, A&S ’82, vice president, Health & Wellness, Prudential Insurance Company, and Marlon Walker, coordinator of Men & Boys’ Programs at CONNECT, a New York City-based non-profit organization dedicated to preventing interpersonal violence and promoting gender justice.
According to researchers, nearly one-third of all workplace violence begins as domestic abuse. The cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is more than $8.3 billion through medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity, such as time away from work. The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year.
There are also consequences to the workplace climate which can affect everyone, researchers said. Yet, this issue often goes unnoticed or does not get addressed.
KC Wagner, co-chair of The Worker Institute’s Equity at Work Initiative, explains that domestic violence can occur in forms that are either invisible or misunderstood, such as psychological, emotional or financial abuse. She clarifies, “those who are targeted may be reluctant to bring it forward for fear of being judged, blamed or lose their job.”
“Co-workers may feel it’s a private issue or not know what to say. Supervisors may feel it’s not a workplace issue,” Wagner said.
Domestic violence is not an issue which is specific to a certain subset of employees, job classification or type of workplace, Wagner said. No one is immune. Therefore, all organizations must have a plan and be aware of external resources that are available to them.
“It is important that labor and management are on the same page to support and implement an integrated approach to dealing with domestic and workplace violence,” affirms Sally Klingel, director, Labor Management Relations, Scheinman Institute. “It cannot be addressed effectively and respectfully unless you think and act across organizational boundaries.”