NIOSH Domestic Violence Workplace Stakeholder Summary (June 18, 2003 Meeting)
Issues Identified during the
NIOSH Stakeholder Meeting on
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
Research and Prevention
June 18, 2003
1. One of the major themes consistently reiterated by participants was the need for more public "buy-in" for domestic violence as a social and business-related problem. While many of the attendees noted efforts to increase social and employer awareness of domestic violence, they also expressed frustration with current trends such as poor media attentiveness and psychological barriers in work environments that lead managers to exhibit "it doesn't happen here" or "it is a personal issue" attitudes. Future research efforts need to focus on ways for social marketing to improve community awareness/response and to change workplace cultures.
2. It was suggested one of the primary ways to encourage employers to adopt a proactive approach to dealing with issues of domestic violence in the workplace was to include cost components in future research. Some suggestions included analyzing the negative costs burdened upon the employer due to incidents, including the monetary expenses of treatment and healthcare and other financial issues such as costs of retraining new employees. When analyzing the expenditures associated with prevention efforts, many participants noted the importance of return-on-investment strategies as methods that would be useful in convincing employers to adopt intervention programs. Other participants recommended targeting insurance companies using similar return-on-investment analyses to pressure employers from an alternative angle.
3. Many participants stressed the importance of recurring meetings such as the NIOSH - sponsored event to continue to coordinate efforts between organizations and share information about ongoing issues, trends, and model programs.
4. Participants identified a need for research centered on perpetrators who work in violent occupations such as law enforcement which addresses characteristics of the work environment (job function itself, hours worked) that may predispose an individual to violent activity in domestic settings. In addition, treatment programs for batterers need to be evaluated for effectiveness, as do methods currently existing to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
5. A need for a better understanding of the effectiveness of existing safety and prevention practices such as zero tolerance policies and restraining orders was also identified. More substantial information on the success of such programs will allow businesses to better tailor interventions to their particular worksites and create an avenue for new technologies and safety practices to be developed and implemented to fill existing gaps.
6. Participants discussed a need to examine co-occurring issues related to domestic violence in the workplace including mental health, substance abuse, bullying, and the trauma associated with violent incidents, not only for victims, but for perpetrators and coworkers as well. Additionally, there is a need to elucidate the full impact of abuse-related violent events on coworkers.
7. From a business public relations perspective, participants suggested that there is a need to determine community reaction to the existence of a prevention program as a positive corporation benefit or an admission of a problem within the company.
8. To raise community and management responsiveness, many participants suggested pursuing efforts to incorporate domestic violence awareness courses into curriculums such as social work, medicine, and business administration.
9. There is an ongoing need to continue to more strenuously address underserved populations in regards to domestic violence in the workplace. These include minorities, migrant, non-English speaking, and disabled worker populations.
10. Better research will depend on a move to create uniform and mandatory reporting for incidents of domestic violence in the workplace.