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Ending Violence Against Women - Basics for the Workplace

two women in a meeting

Violence against women is everywhere. In the workplace, we see it in certain jokes, “water cooler talk”, information and media we consume, and also directly. Many women face harassment or assault from a coworker or supervisor. For others, the abuse they experience at home carries -over into the workplace. This can happen in a variety of ways, including  harassing phone calls, uninvited visits, or threats. It can also be less obvious to others, such as difficulties the victim faces in attempting to cope or even cover up the abuse. Considering the fact that one in three  women have been affected by abuse,  it is very likely every one of us knows someone who has been abused. It’s possible a co-worker, employee or boss has or is experiencing some form of abuse and it’s imperative that everyone knows what to look out for and how to help.

 

National Housing Day and its Link to Employer Support for Domestic Violence Victims

woman signing housing paperwork

“Why can’t they just leave?”

That’s the default response to a story about a victim enduring domestic violence.  Packing up bags and walking out the door towards a fresh new chapter of their lives is a pleasant image to evoke, but void of the harsh realities that victims actually face.  Many financial barriers unfortunately stand in their way and one of the largest and most daunting expenses can be housing.  Victims may find themselves going from a dual-income household to supporting small children on a single-income.  Alternatively, they might not have had meaningful employment in their previous household arrangement, always dependent on their abuser for finances, which makes their search for stable, suitable housing immediately challenging.  Without adequate funds for a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, or without any proof of income documents to show, how can victims swiftly leave their situation and thrive independently?

 

Woman Abuse Prevention Month: How Workplaces Can Help Prevent Abuse

business woman looking out window with sadness

As the remaining golden and rust-toned foliage finally floats to the ground early November, this month also ushers in the beginning of Woman Abuse Prevention Month.  This month of awareness is particularly salient since domestic violence rates have intensified amid pandemic-driven quarantines and lockdowns.  We at Make It Our Business have strived to adapt our workplace support resources to our new socially-distanced circumstances, releasing a blog on warning signs of abuse that you can spot while working from home (blog: http://makeitourbusiness.ca/blog/new-warning-signs-spotting-abuse-canadi...).  Of course, questions about concrete steps your workplace can take to prevent abuse remain at large.

 

Oct 1st 2020 marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons

senior African woman having tea

Thirty years ago, on December 14, 1990, the UN General Assembly made October 1 the International Day of Older Persons. The day was observed for the first time throughout the world on October 1, 1991. The 2020 observance will also promote the commencement of the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030). The initiative will bring together UN experts, civil society, government and the health professions to discuss the five strategic objectives of the Global Strategy and Action plan on Ageing and Health while noting the progress and challenges in their realization. The global strategy is well integrated into the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while ageing issues cut across the 17 goals, especially Goal 3 which aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being of all at all ages”.

 
 

Gender Equality Week: The Inequality of Working from Home

mother watching 2 kids while working at home

Mid-September marks a full six months of quarantine in Ontario as workers who would typically work in an office continue to work from home. Some consequences of this new arrangement have certainly been welcome. With commutes eliminated, workers can sleep in later and enjoy the flexibility of running occasional errands around or near the home. The shift to working from home also enables workers to spend more time with their family and pets. Of course, this oversimplified portrayal of work-from-home life obscures the glaring fact that this comes to the detriment of women. Mid-September might mark six months of quarantine but late September also signifies Canada’s Gender Equality Week, a particularly opportune time to discuss how the pandemic exacerbates gender inequality.

 
 

New Warning Signs for Spotting Abuse & Canadian Labour Laws Supporting Victims

Six months into quarantine, many of us fortunate enough to work from home have realized that we took perfunctory office routines for granted.  Strolling over to coworkers’ desks to chat about their day or taking much-needed lunch breaks in the cafeteria now feel like bygone cherished traditions.  Going to work not only adds structure to our day but also offers valuable social interaction.  We are invested in our colleagues’ well-being and they in ours; to varying degrees, they are sources of emotional and psychological support.  Seeing our co-workers on a regular basis also helps us flag anything amiss.  It’s much easier to notice if someone seems upset, tired, or distracted when you are frequently around them. 

 
 

Everything Wrong with Zero Tolerance Policies & Why Progressive Discipline is the Future

News stories following athletes accused of domestic violence flow like clockwork: after allegations surface and gain traction, players’ affiliated teams swiftly announce pre-emptive firings.  Immediately, teams absolve themselves of any responsibility in rehabilitating the player, capped with an opportunity to tout their “zero tolerance” policies.  Meanwhile, athletes are left to independently confront their actions and navigate their rehabilitation without any support from an organization that was once incredibly important to them. 

 

 

Unifor Women’s Advocates remain active during Covid-19

Women’s Advocates for the workplaces who have been laid off as well as those working from home are able to be contacted remotely through dedicated email addresses or cell phones. Advocates are working to reach out to local services, including shelters, to determine whether new protocols are in place due to the pandemic. Shelters have had to put rules in place due to physical distancing. Some have had to offer shelter in hotels where their shelters are full or they need to reduce the number of people at the shelter. Some shelters have put new processes in place to allow women to contact them for support, counselling and safety planning. Using text and online chat can allow women to reach out without being overheard by their abuser.  

The value of being prepared

The pandemic is teaching us the extraordinary value of preparedness. When the lockdown started in early March, it came as a shock that society could so suddenly be closed. The implications for citizens who are vulnerable have been highlighted in devastating ways, showing us that a deep-rooted health crisis was already present. Vulnerability and social disadvantage are reflected in the demographics of those who die.

National Day of Mourning – Remembering Victims of Workplace Sexual Violence

On June 2nd, 1996, sixteen months after she had filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, Theresa Vince was murdered at work by her supervisor. On November 12th, 2005, Nurse Lori Dupont was murdered by a co-worker whom she had previously had an intimate relationship with. Despite these deaths occurring at their respective workplaces, in both cases a coroner’s inquest only occurred because of the lobbying efforts of families, women’s advocates, and organized Labour, academics, survivors, and community groups.

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