One of the key things about domestic violence is that it is carried through our lives. Ever present and difficult to avoid, it lingers from home to work and socially.
There can be an element of guilt when we bring the issues in our life to work. Trying to hide and avoid it in some cases is downright unhealthy.
Feeling the pressure of managers to avoid bringing personal issues to the workplace and focus on work is questionable at best, and destructive at worst.
Yesterday, Telstra launched a Domestic and Family Violence Policy to assist their massive workforce in times of need. This is the sort of leadership that is necessary.
For too long corporate Australian has distanced itself from issues that affect people at home. Inclusive and engaged workforces require support for issues beyond the operational control. Supporting women who are going through domestic violence is essential.
Good leaders know that we can only be our most productive when we can bring our whole self to work and share, learn and develop from challenges internally and externally.
Telstra's policy is a watershed moment for working women in Australia.
Corporate Australia should watch, learn and follow in their footsteps. Organisations need to take considered charge on this issue. Domestic violence cannot be ignored.
While small businesses may not be able to handle a policy or dedicate many resources to the issue, they can still set a tone. All staff ought to know that violence is wrong, but if they are suffering it they can turn to someone for support.
I live in Western Australia where domestic violence is magnified. In the past year, 16 people have been killed at the hands of their partners and police report that over 46,000 calls were made to them regarding family violence.
One of our great challenges is the impact of family breakdown and the nature of the FIFO (fly-in-fly-out) workforce. It can be difficult to manage for many families with emotions heightened. The masculine industries that dominate this type of work have well reported challenges with women and gender equality.
As Australia pursues a more global and services-based economy, the outcomes of FIFO will be realised by many more. The hard and fast impacts of overnight trips and demanding workplaces must be acknowledged.
Domestic violence can seem distant from the workplace, but as demands on staff develop, stresses can build. Managers need to consider their own voice here.
We can all agree that one death is too many.
It is time for managers to step up to this issue that we so rarely acknowledge.
Conrad Liveris is a workforce diversity specialist
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