Supporting Mothers Who are Survivors in the Workplace     

By Patrice Tillery 

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, 65% of HR professionals reported that domestic violence had affected their workplace, with issues including decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and increased healthcare costs. The same study found that only 13% of HR professionals felt very confident in their ability to recognize and respond to domestic violence in the workplace. 

This shows us that organizations should look at their policies and practices to ensure that all staff feel safe and supported, especially survivors of intimate partner violence. Mothers who are survivors of intimate partner violence may require more support than other employees. Healing, moving, attending court proceedings, and/or spending more time dropping off/picking up kids are all changes that require adjustments and grace from their employers.   

Showing up for staff is not easy, nor is it one size fits all. As we celebrate mothers during the month of May, we want to highlight some ways that organizations can support mothers who are survivors of gender-based violence. 

Allow a safe environment for employees to share their experience, without asking for too many details. Organizations must create a culture of listening and holding space. When people feel heard and supported, sometimes, they open up to their colleagues and managers about what is going on in their personal life, especially if they realize it is affecting their performance at work. Healing from abuse is a long process, and survivors disclose their experiences at their own pace. If you suspect that someone at work is in an abusive relationship, asking direct questions about their situation may cause them to retreat. Instead, listen and then ask how you can support them. 

Create a flexible environment for parents. Survivors may need time off to heal from any form of abuse. Offering paid time off to employees is critical to give people the time to process how they want to move forward. If a survivor chooses to leave their relationship and become a single parent, survivors who are mothers need the flexibility to pick up a sick child, attend a performance, a court date, or other events the child may require. Offer solutions to these schedule changes such as taking personal time off or making up hours outside of the traditional work schedule. Single mothers are no less capable or intelligent than anyone else, but they may have more limitations on their time, availability and schedule. 

Offer outside resources. It’s ok to not be the expert but you should be prepared to recommend someone who is. Many organizations have employee assistance programs designed to help employees through tough situations. Make sure your organization talks openly and often about these programs, so all employees know where to get help. In addition, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, BWJP, and Futures Without Violence are great places to gain more information to give to staff.  

At the end of the day, many mothers must engage in work outside of the home for the well-being of their children or because they want to work. Mothers who are survivors of gender-based violence may need a little more support than other employees, but they can still bring great value to your team.  

Patrice Tillery is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park with over 15 years of experience in relationship selling and development. She is excited to use her skill set to develop relationships that further the BWJP Mission. When she isn’t working, Patrice enjoys planning fun outings with her two daughters, and singing her heart out at concerts with friends. 

TAGS: #BWJP Announcements #Children and Teens #News #Women

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