Intimate partner violence is often understood from the physical scars and marks it can leave. Yet, its emotional, psychological, and financial toll can also be some of its most damaging aspects. As Domestic Violence Awareness Month continues, it’s an opportune time for corporations and organizations to reconsider how their DEI strategy is supportive of survivors of intimate partner violence.
The experience of intimate partner violence is one that is far-reaching, impacting 1 in 4 women and 1 in 2 trans people in the United States. Organizations like the nonprofit FreeFrom have made significant strides in reframing IPV as a systemic, economic issue. That shift in perspective is one that many corporations and organizations could adopt to produce policies, procedures, and, above all, a workplace culture that allows survivors to be safe, heal, and thrive.
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by IPV, with American Indian/Alaskan Native women experiencing assault and domestic violence at rates much higher than other ethnicities. Black women also experience IPV at disproportionately high rates and are more likely to be criminalized for their experiences (if they are believed in the first place). IPV may be a highly personal experience, but its causes and reach are systemic and must be treated as such. Prioritizing support for survivors as part of your company or organization’s DEI strategy can take on many approaches, including:
In a world dominated by capitalism, safety is expensive. Money often prevents many survivors from leaving violent situations; low wages leave many living paycheck to paycheck
with no room for building an emergency fund and, in many cases, no access to bank accounts and credit cards (as a means of control by violent partners). Adding a survivor emergency fund to employee benefits would give many survivors the relief needed to escape violent situations and build security for their future. It is also crucial to provide flexibility in how those funds are distributed, as many survivors may have their accounts monitored or paychecks stolen by their perpetrators.
Flexible Work Schedules and Paid Leave
Court dates and other legal obligations can take up a significant amount of time for survivors and create high amounts of stress. A flexible work schedule and a substantial paid leave policy that includes survivors of IPV can provide the necessary relief many seek. Having the ability to take off extended amounts of time without a reduction in pay or a stoppage of benefits is vital for many survivors to be able to take time off to heal. The ability for employees to work remotely or on shortened hours while still maintaining their full salary is the grace that all survivors should be shown during such an overwhelming experience in their lives.
Whether currently in the midst of an experience with IPV or having experienced it years ago, the scars of IPV can linger for years. Supporting your team in their healing journeys as part of your DEI strategy can help survivors show up as their best selves at work and assure them that they are valued as an individual beyond their performance.
Comprehensive health insurance coverage with solid benefits for mental health services or a program that connects employees with quality counselors and practitioners is a step your organization or company can take to lighten the load of healing for survivors. Intimate partner violence does not wait until October to strike. Schedule a consultation with ShiftED Consulting today to ensure supporting survivors is embedded in your DEI strategy year-round.