Its not ok

Is family violence an HR issue?

If you live in New Zealand you will be familiar with the It’s Not OK campaign.

A friend of mine in the UK was recently the victim of domestic violence. The assault was serious enough to warrant a suspended prison sentence and a course of rehabilitation for her partner. It wasn’t the first time she had called the police in fear of her safety. She had to take at least two weeks off work after the assault. The relationship is now over.

Here in New Zealand, the statistics make chilling reading. For example:

  • There is an act of family violence investigated by the police every five and a half minutes
  • Three quarters of offences committed by family members are not reported to the police
  • Half of all homicides each year are the result of family violence
  • 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual abuse from a partner during their lifetime

There are plenty more horrible statistics.

So what are we doing about it as an HR profession? Most of us would probably shrug our shoulders and say it is nothing to do with us.  And yet we put initiatives and training in place around managing stress, around resilience, we provide counselling services for staff, we provide additional support for bereavements, we run wellbeing and wellness programmes.

Statistically some of our employees will either be victims or perpetrators of family violence. But family violence remains the largely unseen, unmentioned elephant in the room. Do any of us know how much time is lost in sick leave and sudden unexplained absences?  Are any of us doing anything proactive to raise awareness among our employees?

I personally believe that needs to change. And it starts with us. If you are in Wellington on 11 May, come along to the Wellington HR Meetup and hear more about what we as HR professionals can do to raise awareness of family violence in our organisations and why it matters.

Wellington HR Meetup

In addition to our guest speakers, I will be talking about one large New Zealand organisation, the Warehouse, who are doing something quite exceptional in this area.  Please join us if you can. Or do you want to keep looking the other way?

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6 thoughts on “Is family violence an HR issue?

  1. Powerful stuff Richard and a big question. My view is that, like mental health, domestic violence is a taboo subject and therefore often not talked about or understood and the way to change this is to start the conversation.

  2. Great article, Richard. I totally agree that family violence is a HR issue. If something outside of work is affecting people inside work, then it’s a problem so why wouldn’t we seek to support it like we would with any other internal problem? Approach wise, it should be no different from any other type of life changing event such as bereavement or loss which although we shout more about, most organisations still find it hard to approach. I think it essentially comes down to talking more, much like mental health. An individuals experience outside of work shapes their experience inside it and should very much matter to every organisation but I agree that people don’t often feel like they can open up about something that is rarely discussed let alone acknowledged.

  3. Reblogged this on Not The Evil HR Lady and commented:
    Great article, Richard. I totally agree that family violence is a HR issue. If something outside of work is affecting people inside work, then it’s a problem so why wouldn’t we seek to support it like we would with any other internal problem? Approach wise, it should be no different from any other type of life changing event such as bereavement or loss which although we shout more about, most organisations still find hard to approach. I think it essentially comes down to talking more, much like mental health. An individuals experience outside of work shapes their experience inside it and should very much matter to every organisation but I agree that people don’t often feel like they can open up about something that is rarely discussed let alone acknowledged.

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