Today's blog in the #BeTheRippleBlogs series is an informative and vital piece from Dorothy McKinney, demonstrating the importance of kindness in one of its most crucial forms.
Dorothy is a Managing Director in a specialist Human Resources Company, which works to empower workplaces to be inclusive, productive, healthy and fair for all and to create environments where people and teams thrive.
You can find Dorothy on LinkedIn: Here and you can also find her on Twitter: @dmckinneyltd.
This piece from Dorothy is so very important and I would urge you to share it with your networks.
Over to Dorothy:
Domestic Abuse - The Employer's Challenge and their Opportunity!
I’ve worked in HR for over 40 years, the last 9 as a consultant. I remember only too well the focus on reducing sickness absence and the time spent analysing the statistics and reasons for absence along with the challenge of how absences were coded on the system and needing to move away from such practices as carers needing to ‘go of sick’ rather than apply for special leave for their caring responsibilities.
Yet we never thought about one very critical issue which causes absence – domestic abuse – we were so busy with our heads ‘down’ that we weren’t looking more holistically, until a very good friend asked me if I could help her daughter who was appealing a final written warning for short frequent sickness absence …… let’s call her Morag.
The story unfolded over the next week or so. Morag was a victim of domestic abuse, she had numerous short frequent absences the majority of which were connected directly to the abuse… not letting her out of the house, having bruises which she couldn’t hide, being injured and ashamed to say, her partner arguing with her all night and just too tired to come into work, hospital visits for injuries, having an in-depth knowledge of how to treat large burns at home that no one else I knew would have had.
So, I did my research and learnt that my instinct to ‘rescue’ was not the right approach and what I needed to do was to help her keep herself safe and signpost her to those who had the expertise to help her. I also got her warning reduced to a first written with occupational health support!
I then started to talk about the issues in my HR team and we were surprised at how conversations started to take place throughout our building and the number of people who were saying ‘that happened to me’. So much so that a young woman came to me, disclosed horrendous abuse and we developed a safety plan for her which included a code word which if used when she phoned in sick, we knew to phone her Mum who would then contact the police and go straight to her house. I saw the same young women two months later and she was walking taller and looked much more confident. She told me that she no longer felt ashamed. I’d like to think that we empowered her to take some of her dignity back.
Fast forward a number of years …. I was now running my own business and read an article in an HR magazine which said that over 80% of HR professionals believed that they had a duty of care towards victims of domestic abuse however less than 5 % had a policy.
Well that just wasn’t good enough so myself and colleague Jo did the research!
Combining the figures for men and women - approximately 1 in 5 people are victims of domestic abuse.
That means that for every 100 staff members:
We pulled the available resources together (and there are lots available!) and produced a policy and managers guide and started to share these with our clients, forums and quite frankly anyone who would listen to us!
We also developed the ‘3Rs’ as follows:
We have found the biggest barrier to having the conversation in the workplace is managers being worried about how to do so and then having a responsibility to do something about it. As you can see from the ‘3Rs’ the responsibility is no different to having a conversation with someone about their work or any other issue which deserves a sit-down confidential conversation. Managers and HR are not the right people to resolve the situation we need to refer to those who have the skills and knowledge to do so e.g. Woman’s Aid, Mankind etc. as well as counselling and related support.
We know that having the ‘difficult conversation’ is a challenge for work related issues never mind something as sensitive as domestic abuse so we’ve also included support to undertake these conversations effectively in our managers guide.
If you’d like a copy of the policy and manager’s guide, they are available from my LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/dorothy-mckinney/ or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like a word version then please just send me a message with your email address and I’ll send them to you.
We have been delivering short sessions (free) for businesses and HR teams on the figures and the need for the policy so please just let me know if you’d like us to deliver this to you and your team.
We need to reduce the stigma of domestic violence so please implement the policy and please start to talk about the issues as you will help reduce the stigma and support disclosure. The impact you will have will be unmeasurable !
Thank you so much to Dorothy for sharing this important piece.
The research that Dorothy and her colleague undertook and the resulting guides and resources are so important and can quite literally save lives. This is kindness from HR professionals in one of its most vital forms, looking holistically and offering potentially life-saving support.
I am so happy to say that Dorothy has been hugely kind in allowing #BeTheRipple to share PDFs and Word versions of templates for both the 'Domestic Abuse Policy' and the 'Manager's Guide for the Domestic Abuse Policy' that she and her colleague created. You can find all documents on our resource base : https://padlet.com/joanna_suvarna/Be_The_Ripple.
We are hopeful that very soon we will also be able to add a recording of the associated awareness training to our resource base too.
If you or someone you know has been/is being impacted by domestic abuse, here are some links and helplines where you can get some advice:
Women's Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/
Thank you once again to Dorothy for today's blog piece and also for the excellent resources, something that I would urge all organisations to download and make use of.
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If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: email@example.com.
See you soon for the next instalment!
#Kindness #BeTheRippleBlogs #BeKind
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: