The month of November is dedicated to the fight for an end of violence against women. Specifically, the day of Non-Violence against women is celebrated on the 25th of November. This is an issue that, in the midst of the pandemic, has become even more important and more relevant to be discussed in society and on professional circles. But what is going to be the role of corporations in the fight against such violence? How can they identify women who are likely to be facing this type of situation? How can they back them up and, very importantly, how can companies fulfill their role in the prevention of this happening in the first place?
The impact of domestic violence affects not only the health of women, bu also their productivity at work, increases missed days at work, growth opportunities and offers, among other aspects. A study carried out in partnership with the World Bank in 2019 estimated that, in Brazil, 1.2% of the GDP is lost in lack of productivity as a result of violence against women (around US$ 21 billion) every year.
Nowadays, due to the pandemic, women are quarantined in their own homes, together with the perpetrators of the violence. After all, two out of every three assassinations of women, happen at home, sometimes after other instances of lower level violence. 52% of women do not report those crimes to authorities (Visível e Invisível research, 2018).
Everything starts with EDUCATION! We need to know what we are fighting against!
It is clear that the best path to work on themes of Diversity and Inclusion, like battling misogyny and violence against women, starts with Education. One of the most effective actions in this direction has been the creation of affinity groups. One of the aims of theses groups is to promote debates, workshops, and to create safe places for exchanges and learning.
It is important that corporations teach, for example, the different kinds of violence against women, that are typified in the Maria da Penha Law because, unlike what many people think, violence is not only a physical act.
- Psychological Violence: this is one of the hardest for victim to notice. It originates from actions that cause emotional damage, hurt their self-esteem, and may have the intention of controlling their behavior (threaten, embarrass, extort, blackmail, humiliate, persecute, isolate from family/friends, prevent from working/studying, etc.).
- Moral Violence: actions that may result in slander, vilification, false accusation, exposing the victim´s private life, questioning their behavior and moral becuase actions such as the way they dress, etc.).
- Property Violence: is the appropriation or the partial/complete exhaustion of property, money, financial/personal resources of the victim (controlling their money, preventing access to property, not paying child support/alimony, etc.).
- Physical Violence: it affects the woman´s physical integrity or health (hitting, squeezing, strangling, torturing, etc.).
- Sexual Violence: it can be a physical act or an act that will cause physical embarrassment or shame, having or being part in non-consensual sexual relations (rapes, prevention of the adoption of contraceptive methods, forcing abortion, etc.).
It is also important that corporations promote education as a means to help women that may be suffering from such actions to identify abusive behavior. There are three stages in the Cycle of Domestic Violence:
- Increase in tension: the aggressor becomes irritated with small daily issues, has attacks of rage and may threaten the victim. Especially at this stage, the victim may still feel guilty for causing these emotions in the aggressor as he usually puts the blame on the victim, as a way to justify his violent behavior.
- Violent attack: in this stage is when the aggression actually happens (any of the kinds of violence mentioned above).
- Honeymoon: it is very usual for the aggressor to say he regrets, to apologize, going back to a sweet behavior. Unfortunately, this occurs until stage 1 of the Cycle starts again.
Knowing more about the problem, how can corporations give SUPPORT to the victims?
There are several public outlets for reporting abuse that should be constantly publicized in the culture and on everyday Communication initiatives of corporations. In Brazil, the most important is the 180 phone number (Women´s Service Hotline), a 24-hour a day service. It is important to make it clear that this help channel is not exclusive to women, it is also open to men who identify themselves as aggressors and are looking a help to change their behavior. It is possible to ask for guidance on how to revert this cycle.
But if violence is actively taking place, the police must be called through the 190 number. Besides these and other public channels (police stations dedicated to women´s issues – Delegacia da Mulher – Woman´s Police Station; free legal state assistance programs, prosecutors offices, etc.), it is important that corporations have their own internal scheme, whose main reason should be not only to identify abuse happening in the company, its teams and or on leadership situations, but also in other levels, such as the personal one.
The creation of a space for embracing, receiving accounts of violence and providing guidance, is an excellent strategy to transform your company into a safe and healthier place and, therefore, a more productive one.
So, if your company does not yet provide this service, create one. Or if this channel is already in place, are all your employees aware of it? Do they know where to find it, what its goals are and to what issues it is open to hear from? This is a type of behavior that should constantly be stimulated by corporations and by the leadership. And it is important that not only reporting is stimulated, rather, attitudes should be in place, for example: a meaningful contact with the victim; actions that should be carried out against the aggressor; or also giving support to the victim of domestic violence.
At Falconi, besides our Compliance Program, we believe that education is an agent of transformation and, so, one of our affinity groups, the Falconi 8.03 (whose name pays homage to the 8th of March, International Women´s Day) deals specifically with the issue of Gender Equality.
The group works with the pillars of Women, Parenthood and Masculinity (our group that thinks about what Manhood means). Since its inception, we have worked on educating through educational brochures, conversation groups and by organizing meetings for the mutual exchange of experiences and ideas. Lastly, the group also elaborates and acts on affirmative action initiatives such as: the re-evaluation of parenting benefits for fathers and mothers; the drafting of a process of welcoming mothers; the development and implementation of a plan of action to achieve the goal of having 30% of women in our highest ranking positions until 2025, and other measures.
Would you like to get to know more about our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, specifically under the paradigm of Gender Equality? Send us an email to [email protected]