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No longer considered a private matter that only impacts the home, companies are now acknowledging that domestic violence can and does affect the workplace. It also affects the survivors and the targets in relation to their careers, their job search techniques, and their empowerment.

It's more than just a home problem between couples. It's more than something that happens behind closed doors at home. Domestic violence spills it's ugly head and reaches its long tentacles into all parts of life and dramatically impacts commerce and the workplace.

Statistics show that businesses bear the brunt of the cost of domestic violence when workers lose time from work due to injuries. Healthcare costs borne by employers increase because of increased need for medical attention. According to Texas Council on Domestic Violence publication, Domestic Violence IS a Workplace Issue, domestic violence costs employers $3-5 billion annually due to worker absenteeism, increased health care costs, higher turnover and lower productivity.

A large number of workplace violence and death stems from when the disgruntled spouse, lover or ex shows up ready to get even with the target. They account for 74% of the women (not including men in this category) who are employed and in a battering or violent or abusive relationship. Ibid. Shouting matches, disruption of workflow by everyone in the immediate and adjoining work areas, and even shooting of the target, their co-workers and security guards can and does result. Murder is the leading cause of on-the-job death among women (again, this statistic does not account for men who are in the same situation). Ibid. Furthermore, the National Safe Workplace Institute's recent national survey indicates that 94% of corporate security directors rank domestic violence as a high security problem at their company. Ibid.

Those who are the targets of the abuser can be of any age, any race or ethnicity, either sex, any sexuality, any religion. They can be a member of Mensa or not. They may be a credentialed and lettered executive or they may be a high school dropout. Domestic abuse and domestic violence knows no bounds in these areas.

Abuse can occur in several forms. There is physical abuse where there is actual battering. There is sexual abuse. There is emotional abuse, sometimes taking the form of belittling. And there is psychological abuse. These last two forms are not confined to the home. They can and do occur in the workplace when a supervisor or manager is actually insecure about their own self worth and feels the need to manipulate and control their subordinates in order to feel powerful in some realm of their own life. (See "When Things Go Wrong" and "It's About Your Manager")

October 1 was designated by President Clinton as Domestic Violence Workplace Education Day.

A few corporations are now realizing how important this issue is and that they need to be aware and able to respond to the need in order to keep good workers and keep their costs down. (See "Vanguard Companies Taking a Stand")

To respond to the recognition of domestic violence and how it impacts the workplace and recruiting and hiring, this column is hosting a month-long event that will run from September 26 to October 31. Please use this time to read the collection of articles in this and the participating columns to learn about and consider the ways that domestic violence impacts commerce and the workplace and what can be done to prevent the harm.

A short (but not exhaustive) list of topics appropriate to this event and worthy of your consideration is:

  • Workplace and Public Security
  • Internet Safety
  • Computers and Computer Programs
  • Hacking and Snoop Programs
  • Privacy and Confidentiality
  • Email
  • Document Storage and Security
  • Housing
  • Children and Childcare
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Law and Legal Services
  • Employment and Unemployment Benefits
  • Careers
  • Interviewing and Screening
  • Management and Supervision
  • Workplace Productivity
  • Domestic Abuse and Violence
  • Harassment and Stalking
  • Travel and Commuting Safety
  • Telecommuting
  • Self Esteem
  • Social Responsibility
  • Personal Finances and Credit
  • Human Resources
  • Employment Benefits
  • Unions
  • Empowerment
  • Education and Retraining
  • Safety and Escape Plans
Please take this list as a suggestion of just some of the ways in which domestic violence affects the workplace and commerce. It is plain from this short list that the full range of impact cannot be covered in one article or in one topic.

If you would like more information about corporations that have adopted their own plan to take responsibility for their workplace and their workers, please contact me with regard to workplace violence and domestic violence. If you would like more information about what to do or how to find resources to help you in your job search or career development please contact me. Or if you want your recruiting program to be more effective so that you are not bypassing a truly competent candidate who is a survivor who is rebuilding, please contact me.

Domestic violence is not a private matter any longer. It can and does impact the workplace and commerce in numerous ways. It is time to acknowledge it and empower yourself as the manager, the business owner, the recruiter and the survivor.

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Originally published September 21, 2000

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