Family Violence; a Workplace Obligation?

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to The Warehouse Group’s (TWG) talk on the inroads and steps they have made within their doors in terms of addressing family violence. It was shocking, thought provoking, inspiring, shameful and heart-warming all at the same time.

It’s the stats I found the most disturbing, a few I’ll share with you here;

  • Every 5 mins in NZ there is a domestic violence related call out (Police call out)
  • It’s estimated that only 20% of incidences are reported
  • 1 in 3 NZ woman will be affected
  • At 85% of all cases reported, a child is present

And if those aren’t confronting enough, I’m sure a lot of people out there will be surprised to discover that in Anna Campbell from TWG’s words “violence doesn’t discriminate”. Age, religion, sexual orientation, socio economic factors and the like are all beside the point when it comes to family violence.

Dr Ang Jury from Woman’s Refuge spoke also, and reiterated their support for ALL people, all victims of violence, not just woman & children. Her and her team are on hand to help workplaces and people in workplaces to deal with situations of violence.

Anna, Julie Simpson and Pejman Okhovat from TWG and their team are inspirational in the work they’ve done to date and continue to do into the future. Their critical points for workplaces looking to make similar inroads into the topic in their workplaces are to ensure the strictest of confidentiality at all stages of the process, to ensure staff payments go into bank accounts with their name on it only, to provide training and support for their staff (endorsed from the top down and ensuring they take the conversation wider.

All speakers repeated the need to ensure all victims receive the right response the first time as they may not be brave enough to come forward again, this includes everything from the language used to the resources they receive being accurate. They need the confidence that everything will be confidential, that they have ongoing support and realistic timeframes going forward. There is no one size fits all approach, but recognising the issue, responding appropriately then referring victims and users to trained professionals for ongoing help and assistance is essential.

The heart-warming part was discovering some of the unexpected positive outcomes TWG have noted as a result of their efforts including staff taking more ownership of issues, having pride in the programme and greater loyalty to the organisation as a result. Issues such as bullying in the workplace have reduced and people are more willing to have brave conversations with each other.

My key takeaway is that we all have a responsibility to do what we can to change these statistics. To change the reality for so many of our society – your friends, family and co-workers are all affected. To start with we can all make this something people are able to talk about. We can all be mindful, understanding and provide support for both victims and their supporters…and the users of violence when they recognise they need help to change.

Given this is happening all around us, and that we spend more time at work and with our colleagues than anywhere else, I think there’s no better place to start than in the workplace. There are the obvious effects on the likes of absenteeism, productivity, engagement and staff retention but also the lesser known or calculable costs to business of employees who are living under these circumstances. And given it’s these people we’re all with day in day out, we’re more likely to notice changes in a person’s demeanour, potentially indicating an issue than with anyone else.

I am now at the beginning of my part in that journey; I am 100% committed to ensuring my organisation joins the movement going forward to change the horrific family violence stats in NZ. I have had conversations both inside and outside my organisation post the event and have meetings in place to discuss with our Culture & Performance and Health & Safety teams on how we take it forward. I’m exceptionally grateful to the team at The Warehouse Group for highlighting the issue and sharing their work, knowledge experiences and findings so far. #StoptheCycle #ItsnotOK

 

Contacts / Resources:

http://areyouok.org.nz/family-violence/

https://womensrefuge.org.nz/

https://whiteribbon.org.nz/  (White Ribbon)

 

 

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What’s the Point? Finding Your Purpose.

I’ve stolen the first half of the title for this blog from Jonathon Hagger, after reading his post “What’s the Point?” directly after I read David Cullen’s #NZLead tweet chat recap “Why do we work? Meaning in the Workplace”. Both struck a chord.

It’s no secret that work’s been pretty busy for me of late (always if I’m honest!), but the coming together of three of NZ’s biggest media players has definitely been a game changer and one that’s been incredibly exciting to be a part of. The values and purpose of the three individual organisations have changed somewhat, but also remain largely intact within the new, larger group company. We have a new shared sense of direction in our vision and mission as a group. But how has this worked for individuals? Sure, there have been changes and therefore the why has changed for some people and in the course of this I’ve had some very frank conversations with numerous talent within our organisations and asking them similar questions to those posed in the posted linked above has yielded some interesting outcomes, situations and realisations.

For some people their drive and their purpose is to affect greater change. They may not align and be in utmost harmony with the wider group at this point, but they see an opportunity to make a difference and are striving towards that – these are the people who think big, the disruptors, those that will change the face of workplaces in the world. Then there are those who do buy in to the company “way we do things round here” and are if not 100% behind the purpose of the company then they’re close to it. This is something of a seamless alignment in thinking and an ideal, most people would be striving to find in life.

The opposite end of the scale from the descriptions above are the actively disengaged, or aligned and those who are indifferent. A complete disharmony between employee and organisation is a dangerous situation to have in play as these people may be actively working against the organisational purpose and/or attempting to persuade others’ away from it. Those who are indifferent will do less damage internally and externally to the employer brand and culture, but from a productivity perspective are equally bad for business. Hopefully there aren’t too many of these in a business, but if so it’s in these instances that organisations should be able and brave enough to have upfront conversations with people to help them find their point, purpose, why – whatever you choose to call it. Help them recognise where their strengths lie, where their skill sets are better suited, where they will feel happier and more fulfilled in their work. It may be that these people were once “on the bus” – but as technology, business, and the world around us changed they may be surprised to find that they no longer “fit” with the organisation they’re in. They may need help in recognising this, and in finding alternatives and seeking out their point or finding a new environment where their point aligns with company purpose.

If done well people will thank you for these difficult conversations. It may not be straight away, and it may take some considerable time before they’re ready to make a move or to try something new. But in the end it benefits both them, the original and the new organisation.

I’ve found through these processes too, that sometimes people may be unsure of their purpose, but realise in having a conversation with another that they do share the vision or direction of the organisation; so managers, HR and the like need to ensure they take the time to have open dialogue with talent within the organisation. Many times I’ve had people walk into my office feeling uncertain, or unclear, worried about change and the like, but having vented and received feedback, or a different perspective on the situation they’ve left feeling happy and clear in their future direction.

And to answer the questions???

My purpose is people. Communities within workplaces. Open conversations with real feedback. Finding meaning in work. Creating thriving workspaces. Showcasing, developing and attracting talent. Working smarter, utilising technology. Successful change. Growth & future. My purpose is people.