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By working together, we can help raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse

8 Mar 2024Inclusion
2 minute read

By Leanne Wood, Vodafone Group Chief HR Officer

World Health Organisation research confirms that one in three women will be affected by domestic violence and abuse during their lifetime – a figure which has sadly remained largely unchanged over the past decade.

It is such a vital societal issue that we wanted to make sure Vodafone was acting on it inside our business. That’s why in 2019 we launched our first ever domestic abuse policy across our company. Over the past five years, it has become clearer that this is a business-critical issue.

This week, UN Women, sponsored by Vodafone Foundation, published the first major analysis of domestic abuse support across leading British companies. We’ve heard from 22 FTSE100 companies, finding that 82% provide support for survivors of domestic abuse, including Diageo, HSBC UK, Anglo American and NatWest.

Those who confirmed they have policies have made a bold commitment, but we still have some way to go before all employees feel that they have the support of their employers on the issue. FTSE100 companies employ more than five million people globally, so the impact of adopting policies is felt not just in the UK but around the world.

At Vodafone, our policy is making a real difference. It is shining a light on this issue and reducing the stigma so survivors can seek support. Survivors have shared that knowing that this policy was in place - and that Vodafone would support them - gave them the courage to escape abusive relationships and rebuild their lives.

To bring this policy to life, we’ve trained colleagues to spot the signs of abuse and, I hope, create an environment that gives more people the confidence to say, ‘I am affected by this issue’. During the COVID pandemic, for example, one manager was concerned about one of their team. But because of their training, they were able to ask the individual to come into the office without alerting anyone at home and get them the support they needed.

I came into Vodafone with an awareness of domestic abuse as an issue, but I have learnt so much more from implementing our policy. Although domestic abuse predominantly impacts women, it can affect anyone. It’s often complex, and it can take other forms beyond physical violence, such as coercive or financial control. So it’s vital that we all think about what’s going on for other people – and that the most important thing is for everyone to realise that nobody is on their own.

Today is International Women’s Day 2024, and I believe that this is an appropriate moment for the UN Women report to catalyse leaders across all sectors to consider how we can work together to achieve wider implementation and adoption of DVA policies. This can start with an honest conversation about how we can together help address some of the challenges. By sharing learnings and best practice, we can all bring awareness to the workplace.

  • Health
  • Health & Safety
  • Inclusion
  • Partnerships
  • Protecting people
  • Workplace equality

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