Recent events have sadly highlighted the issue of the safety of women in today’s society, or rather the lack thereof. The tragic murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa (amongst others), have caused women to share their own stories and experiences of fearing for their own safety in their every day activities, especially when walking or travelling. It goes without saying that, ideally, we should all be living in a society where no-one, regardless of their gender, sex, religion or race, should feel unsafe in their day to day life.
But what can employers do to support their female employees? Is there any way that employers can show their support at this difficult time?
The first thing an employer can do is encourage discussion about female safety. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to think about putting together a think tank of employees who identify as female, so they can discuss and perhaps strategize ways that the business can ensure their female employees feel safe, and perhaps come up with proposals for the business.
These are the kinds of questions which should perhaps be considered:
- How are women in your workplace getting to and from work? Who is driving? Who is using public transport? Who is walking?
- Do women feel unsafe? Are they concerned about their security when they are travelling or working? Why is this?
- What is the work environment? Is it dark if employees leave late and how often is this a concern? Are women at risk if they close or lock up the business? Do you have a lone-working policy?
- Are hours of work causing problems with travel arrangements?
- Are there any particular demographics which may be struggling more with safety in the workplace? It is relevant that black, Asian, trans and disabled women tend to be more at risk and feel less safe than any other groups of passengers when travelling outside the home.
- Are employees aware of to whom they can report or discuss any domestic incidents or concerns about safety or stalking?
The other important point is not to suppress conversation. It may be that women are particularly passionate about this topic, and want to talk about it. Whilst it may be tempting as an employer to try to stifle divisive topics, it is arguably important to make sure women feel they have a forum to talk, and share their stories, about how safe they feel as a woman.
As above, it may be best that you allow women in the business to come up with proposals or programs which may allow them to feel safer. However, the following are a few examples we’ve seen in different businesses:
- A Safety at Work and Lone Working Policy.
- Paid taxis for women so they don’t have to walk home or having access to a pool of company drivers.
- Introducing a “buddy” system, so women can call their buddy or check-in when travelling home.
- Making your support mechanisms or protection mechanisms clear, for example how you might protect a woman’s identity if she is the victim of stalking.
- Introducing a company official who can be available round-the-clock to be contacted by women employees in case of any emergency.
- Amended hours (where possible) to ensure women don’t travel in the dark; studies show that 84% of women feel unsafe waiting for a bus after dark.
- Making emergency contact numbers clear and easy for employees to be aware of.
Act with empathy
The most important thing is that we listen to women and the victims of gender-related violence at this time, and act with consideration of what will genuinely help.
Here at Thrive, we believe that initiatives should come from a place of genuine engagement and intention. If employers are putting schemes in place or putting out statements that aren’t truly intended to support women, this is hollow and is unlikely to make a difference. What’s important is that employers are authentic and are looking to have an impact and help their employees.
How we can help
As an owner-run company, we know the pains of having to wear many hats and how time is precious. As qualified employment and HR lawyers, we know the consequences of getting HR decisions wrong. We work with you to let you focus on what you need to be doing in the business with the peace of mind that all letters and decisions are run past a qualified lawyer before you implement them.
When you partner with Thrive for outsourced HR support, we can reduce your stress and free you up to work on the business and to make HR decisions with confidence.
With people at the core of every successful business, keeping on top of the ever-changing legislation and making the most out of your people can be challenging, but we are here to help.
We can also support your business in the event an employee approaches ACAS or the employment tribunal.
Get in touch today to invest in your business and make your HR stress free.
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com