Woman Abuse Prevention Month: How Workplaces Can Help Prevent Abuse

Woman Abuse Prevention Month: How Workplaces Can Help Prevent Abuse

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.

Even if you can spot warning signs of abuse in a coworker, bringing up your concerns for their safety can make an uncomfortable and even unwelcome conversation.  After all, it can take time for victims to feel ready to disclose their situation and get help, and you should not rush them.  Nonetheless, that shouldn’t deter your employer from taking proactive steps to preventing abuse.  There are several simple yet impactful actions that workplaces can introduce (both virtually and on-site!) to make them safer and more supportive for men and women enduring abuse.  Below are some policy and procedural recommendations for workplaces that are operating remotely or in-person.

business woman looking out window with sadness

If your workplace is operating in person…

Protect employees from abusers who try to find them at work
•    Make sure parking areas, walkways and building entrances are well-lit
•    Install emergency call boxes or buttons in parking areas
•    Ensure that parking lots are included in security patrol points
•    Remove employee’s name from office door or any other workplace directory that visitors can access
•    Move employee to an area that can’t be seen from the outside the building
•    Install panic buttons

Improve the monitoring of non-employees who visit the premises and control their access to the facilities
•    Designate separate entrances for employees and non-employees (such as visitors or clients)
•    Install monitoring or surveillance tools, such as video/CCTV monitoring and recording or security patrols
•    Require badge access for certain parts of the workplace and employ electronic access control
•    Install security locks
•    Require visitors to check in (during the pandemic, this visitor identification screen could be done as part of their Covid-19 health screening)
•    Supply security officers with a photo or description of the abuser, and if applicable, information on their vehicle.  If your workplace does not have designated security staff, visitor-facing roles such as receptionists can take on this responsibility.