Why Retailers Need to Care About How Domestic Violence Affects Your Workplace . . . And What You Can Do About It
For too long, business leaders have passed off employees’ suspected domestic issues with “it’s a private matter.” But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your business – productivity, employee safety and profits – suffers when an employee is dealing with a domestic violence situation. Why should retailers focus on the issue of domestic violence?
Consider the facts*:
- Domestic Violence is one of the most common of all crimes. One in every four women and one in 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 85 percent of these victims are women.
- Each year, domestic violence results in an estimated 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries to women.
- Battering is the single major cause of injury to women; more frequent than auto accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
*National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (https://ncadv.org)
Why does this matter to you, the retailer, you ask? Because your workforce and your customer base are most definitely affected:
- The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S., resulting in a $1.8 billion loss in productivity for employers.
- Meanwhile, 21 percent of full-time employed adults said they were victims of domestic violence and 74 percent of that group said they’ve been harassed at work.
Basically, if you employ people or have customers who are people. . . well, you do the math. As American businesses, we can no longer dismiss this issue as “family matters” or “issues best left to law enforcement.” The pervasiveness and severity of domestic violence impacting the workplace demands the attention of employers, managers, human resources and security staff.
Domestic violence is all about the power and control over another person. What may start out as something that was first believed to be harmless (e.g., wanting the victim to spend all their time only with them because they love them so much) escalates into extreme control and abuse (e.g., threatening to kill a pet or hurt the victim if they speak to family, friends, etc.). We encourage you to learn more about this issue. At GTM we are all about women’s empowerment. We want retailers – whether you carry our bags or not – to help those in their employ and their customers gain their freedom from DV situations.
For starters, when dealing with your employees in particular, keep an eye out for things like:
- Regular excuses for injuries
- Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
- Constantly checking in with their partner
- Skipping out on work or social outings for no clear reason
- Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises
Secondly, consider putting a policy in place for your store(s) about domestic violence. Policies should highlight the employer’s acknowledgement that domestic violence happens and may impact the workplace, and that as an employer you will do what you can to accommodate those experiencing it (without the threat of the victim losing their job).
What to do if you suspect a DV situation
If you suspect that an employee has been the victim of domestic violence, gently approach the employee and ask some questions:
- “I’ve noticed that you have been coming to work with bruises and I am concerned for your well being, who is hurting you?” This question will often diffuse the excuse making so often used by victims of violence.
- “Do you need help getting a protective order?” Many victims of abuse don’t know how to begin the process of getting a protective order, or shy away from letting their employer know that they have one.
- “Is the person who hurt you a coworker?”
- “I need you to be honest with me so that I can protect not only you, but your coworkers as well, can you please share with me what measures we should take to protect you?”
If you’re a retailer who has chosen to offer your customers handbags that are designed for concealed weapon carry, we applaud you! We appreciate each and every retailer who is committed to the safety and empowerment of women. While we design our bags to be beautiful and fashionable, our handbags are inspired and designed with the ultimate goal of protecting and empowering every woman who carries one. That’s the main reason we exist: safety and empowerment for women. Please take time this month to consider how the scourge of domestic violence affects your workplace and your customers and what you can do about helping those in dangerous situations.