Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Liz Claiborne, and Safe Horizon Release Results of CEO and Employee Survey on Domestic Violence

On “It’s Time to Talk Day,” the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, Liz Claiborne Inc., and Safe Horizon unveiled key findings from two new parallel research studies entitled “Corporate Leaders and America’s Workforce on Domestic Violence,” as part of a CEO Roundtable and Media Briefing. The first measures business leaders' attitudes toward domestic violence, benchmarking the results against those of prior studies conducted by Liz Claiborne in 1994 and 2002. The second survey benchmarks the Corporate Alliance 2005 survey of employee attitudes toward the issue. A complete executive summary is available, but a few key findings include:

1) Increasing numbers of CEO's realize domestic violence impacts the bottom line, but differ significantly with employees on the business role in addressing domestic violence
CEO's underestimate numbers of victims in their own companies: on average, CEO's believe only 6% of their full time employees are victims; this is in sharp contrast to reality --

2) More than 1 in 4 women (26%) in the workplace admit to being a victim and 1 in 4 (24%) know a coworker who is a victim.

3) 90% of employees think companies representatives should be trained in recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence

What does this mean? Clearly employees see domestic violence impacting the workplace 'on the ground' and CEOs are in a different position. It is clear that employees want and need the kind of training offered by SafeWork -- a program launched by Safe Horizon in partnership with the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. For an overview of the new surveys, click here on the CAEPV website.

I think that it is not that top executives don't care -- they just don't SEE it the way that managers and co-workers do on a day to day basis. And CEOs also said overwhelmingly that if their employees asked them for these kinds of programs, they would implement them.

It will be interesting to see what happens as the information in these two surveys starts to be more widely disseminated.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Time to Talk Day, SafeWork, and Stories

Next Tuesday is the fourth annual It’s Time to Talk Day – a day for people throughout the US to talk about domestic violence. In Central Illinois, we have 23 organizations – businesses, the media, community agencies, units of government, universities, law enforcement, the judiciary, service organizations, student groups – all coming together to do all sorts of really cool things to draw attention to domestic violence.

In New York, we will be celebrating the “Day” by kicking off the National Launch of SafeWork 2010 – a challenge to CEOs across the country to get 200 of them to sign a pledge to address domestic violence proactively within their workplaces by 2010. We are doing this in conjunction with our members Safe Horizon. CEOs that have already signed on include Tom Wilson from Allstate, Andrea Jung from Avon, Bill McComb from Liz Claiborne, Andrea Wong from Lifetime Entertainment Services, David Holl from Mary Kay Inc., Andrew R. Urban from Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo P.C., Dr. Robert Pearl from Kaiser Permanente, Emanuel Chirico from Phillips-Van Heusen and David Eslick from USI Holdings. That is a great start!

Here is what we have going on:

CEO Roundtable and Media Briefing
Q&A Session with CEO Panel and questions from the media, including screening of (Un)Safe film and launch of SafeWork 2010
CAEPV, Liz Claiborne, and Safe Horizon will release results of new surveys about the impact of domestic violence in the workplace in conjunction with the launch of SafeWork 2010

SafeWork Education and Training Event
Facilitated training and discussion regarding the impact of domestic violence on the workplace, using (Un)Safe film

(Un)Safe Film premiere
Screening of (Un)Safe at the Museum of Modern Art.
VIP Reception and Cocktail party hosted by Mariska Hargitay, Safe Horizon Board Member and star of NBC’s Law & Order: SVU

It is going to be a great day – but domestic violence is always closer than you think.

I was at an event two days ago talking with two professional gentlemen from Verizon. They were there because their company has a long-term commitment to this issue. However, it was not long before both of them were sharing their stories about domestic violence -- friends they knew who they thought were nice guys but who turned out to be abusive. A family member who was abusive and so they were raised a different way. It was just so close to them.

If you "take a moment" to look around, to learn, and to listen, you may find out that domestic violence is closer than you think. And if you do, I hope you will take the time to ask if someone is safe, and to let them know you care.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What Are You Doing For Domestic Violence Awareness Month? (Or -- Where Is All The Purple?)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I realize it is also a month to recognize a lot of other really important health and other issues -- most notably breast cancer.

But while you see a lot of "pink" around, do you see a lot of "purple"? (Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness like pink represents breast cancer awareness.) I have seen pink mixers, pink bras, pink baseball bats, pink shoes. . . you name it.

But why not purple? I have some guesses.

A long time ago, no one talked about breast cancer -- they kept it a secret, and somehow it was a "shame" and was their fault. But that has changed, and we no longer blame breast cancer victims. We call them survivors.

Now -- with domestic violence, we are not exactly there. We are uncomfortable with it because we are not really sure what "causes" it, whose "fault" it is, what we should do about it, or how to even say something to someone. I don't know all the reasons. I just know this -- it is highly uncomfortable for us.

But put all that aside for a moment. I think we can all agree that the one place everyone should be safe and secure is in their own homes where they should feel loved and cherished. And I think we can all learn a bit about how to be healthier in our own relationships (which is also a source of discomfort for us, I think) and also learn how to recognize if someone is in a relationship that is perhaps not as healthy or safe as it could be.

I am not sure it "matters" that I "get" everything about someone else's relationship-- I am really clear that no one deserves to be hit. Or slapped. Or to have things thrown at them. Or to be intimidated. Or for their children to be afraid.

Maybe for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it would be good if we could all do what Liz Claiborne is asking people to do for "It's Time to Talk Day" and just learn to talk about this -- not argue about it, not decide if it is a "men's thing" or a "women's thing" but just realize it is a thing that impacts everyone. Don't we want everyone to be better and live safely?

Spread the purple!!!!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

How Do You Ask "Are you a victim of domestic violence?"

I was taping a local television spot earlier this week to discuss It’s Time to Talk Day activities in our community and talk about domestic violence and healthy relationships in general. The host of the show asked a very good question -- about the awkwardness of asking someone you care about if they are a victim of domestic violence. He was wondering exactly how you get that conversation started, anyway?

I know I have written about that before in this blog, but because he found our discussion so helpful, I thought I should write about it again.

For me, it really helps to say something like this: "You know I really care about you, and I would rather be wrong than ever have anything bad happen to you. I have noticed lately that you are keeping to yourself more than usual, you seem to be afraid of your partner, you seem to have a lot of injuries which don't make a lot of sense when you explain them, _________________ (whatever the things are you have noticed that you are concerned about). So --because I care, I just need to check in with you and ask you -- are you safe in your relationship?"

I think the "keys" for me are the fact that:

1) I WOULD rather be wrong than have something bad happen to someone I care about. I would rather be embarrassed and say the wrong thing than not say anything.

2) I am asking if the person is safe -- I am not making a judgement about the person they are in a relationship with --

So -- what if my friend says "Are you crazy? I am fine!" I end up saying something like this: "I am so glad you are fine. But if things are ever not fine, I want you to know you can come to me. And I hope that if the situation was reversed and you had concerns for me in my relationship, you would ask me if I was safe because I know you care that much about me."

And -- if you friend ends up saying you are right and he or she is NOT safe? Then offer to help them find the resources in the community that can assist. Do not feel you have to take the burden on yourself -- that is not your job. Support and caring as a friend IS your job-- but helping a person deal with the specifics of a domestic violence relationship (especially if they are choosing to leave) is really best done by those in the field with a lot of experience.

It is also REALLY important to understand there is a difference between being safe and leaving a situation. Sometimes it is not safe to leave. Please do not try to make those decisions for your friend.

You can always call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) for information about services in your area.

If you just read this, thank you. If you ever decide to use what you read, thank you even more.