In France, in 2014, more than 216,000 women reported that they had been physically and/or sexually abused by their former or current intimate partner (spouse, common-law husband, civil partner, boyfriend, etc.). This violence affects all segments of the population, including women employees. Companies are affected by this topic, but very few of them have given consideration to the matter.
This study is the first step in the “Companies Against GendeR ViolencE (CARVE)” project (2014-2016). The goal is to examine the practices companies have in place to address violence and to interview all stakeholders (public institutions, labour organisations and associations) on company involvement with this issue.
In France, legislation on violence against women has been reinforced in the 2000s, under the impetus of the European Union. Awareness campaigns, strategies and tools to fight violence have been developed to fight against violence. However, there are no real legislative injunctions or obligations to compel companies to take action on the matter. They are nevertheless confronted with the issue of violence. Indeed, even without a formal victim detection system, companies can still identify cases of abuse through requests for housing assistance and transfers and, relatively less frequently, through chronic absenteeism. When victims are identified, there is no real institutionalised approach in companies to provide victim assistance. Many actors could become involved: Corporate social workers, managers, social partners or occupational physicians.
The efforts made by the few companies that have taken on this topic are still very limited given the scope of the phenomenon, because violence is often perceived as belonging to the private sphere. The mechanisms of violence are also poorly understood and complex to address.
We observed that to promote company involvement in this matter, companies must become aware of the cost of violence. The victim, made vulnerable by the violence, may endanger her own safety and that of the people who work with her. It is also clear that violence must be drawn out of the private sphere. Incorporating this matter into company policy also addresses the need to ensure employee well-being.
In order to enlist companies to take on this subject, we have issued seven main recommendations, targeting companies themselves, NGOs and public authorities: you will find them detailed in this study.
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