It’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – Here’s How You Can Take Positive Action in Your Workplace.
Whether it is subtle or explicit, violence against women in the workplace remains a large issue across many industries. In Canada, 43 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work. In order to tackle and eliminate this issue, the Canadian private sector must ensure that all employees, especially women, receive appropriate mental and physical protection, proper health and safety training, and support mechanisms to create a positive workplace environment.
1. Use a Gender-Sensitive Approach: This makes sure that all employees’ concerns and experiences are acknowledged and integrated into your organization’s policies, initiatives and programs. Gender sensitivity accounts for the fact that men and women face different health and safety risks and issues in the workplace and ensures that these issues are considered and mitigated to protect all employees. For example, ensuring that women are included and actively participate in health and safety decision-making processes illustrates gender-sensitivity.
2. Implement Corporate Policies: Ensure all policies express a firm stance against violence and apply to management, employees, clients, external contractors, as well as any other stakeholders that work along your organization’s value chain. Comprehensive policies promote internal and external accountability for the protection of your workers. For example, developing a zero-tolerance policy towards violence, abuse and misbehaviour in the workplace illustrates a formal posture against harmful acts in the workplace.
3. Improve Workplace Culture: Promote a workplace environment where employees feel safe and are assured that preventative measures are in place to reduce the risk of violence and harassment. For instance, senior leadership can set the tone from the top by articulating their personal commitment to the policies, programs and initiatives that focus on creating an inclusive and safe working environment. This positive stance can help to generate waves of change through the different levels of an organization.
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, you can highlight your organization’s progress on developing an inclusive and safe working environment and identify areas that could be improved to ensure that all employees feel comfortable, protected and supported while at work. In 2020, our Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector project will release a blueprint for gender equality which includes workplace safety to support organizations address those areas of improvement.