Resources to Help Private Sector Address Family & Sexual Violence
Committed to ensuring women do not lose employment as a result of FSV, BSP’s Head of Support Services, Alicia Sahib (Far Left) engaged the BCFW to review BSP’s workplace policy, ensuring it was in accord with best practice.
Did you know that Papua New Guinea’s private sector has a suite of best practice and culturally appropriate resources to help it combat the negative impact of Family and Sexual Violence (FSV)? These resources not only provide critical and compassionate support to FSV-impacted workers they also help businesses save money.
The Cost to Business
A survey conducted by the PNG Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) and World Bank revealed that 94 percent of business leaders surveyed believed their staff experienced FSV and that violence against women negatively affected their businesses. It is estimated that the equivalent of 10 percent of company payroll in PNG is lost due to FSV. One of the BCFW’s member businesses in the resources sector calculated that FSV cost it 3 million kina per year just in lost staff time!
Executive Officer of the BCFW, Evonne Kennedy, reports that “FSV hurts businesses irrespective of where it occurs … whether it’s at work, at home, or in the community.” FSV causes lower productivity amongst not only those staff who experience the violence but also staff who try to assist them, as well as the perpetrators themselves. Kennedy explains that impacted staff tend to take more days off work, their minds are often not ‘on the job’ and they may be physically impaired from working properly.
In addition to lower productivity amongst FSV-impacted staff are several increased business costs associated with additional recruitment and training, security requirements, insurance premiums, litigation, and administration.
A Policy to Help Business
The BCFW began developing resources to assist businesses reduce the damaging impact and costs of FSV in 2014. Origin Energy CEO and foundation BCFW Chair, Lesieli Taviri, recalls that this was in direct response to a plea for assistance from the PNG business community. “We [PNG business leaders] all knew we had to do something about FSV and the toll it was taking on our staff and our businesses but we just didn’t know where to start or who to turn to. With the help of international experts, as well as our own member businesses, we were able to develop our FSV Workplace Policy and associated trainings and consultancy services.” Several additional and complementary resources to assist businesses address FSV have since been developed and to date 46 PNG businesses have utilised at least one of these.
“Implementing an FSV workplace policy is paramount to a company laying the right foundations for a coordinated and systematic approach to tackling FSV” advises Kennedy.
Acting as a blueprint for companies, the policy works towards providing a course of action should employees be subjected to violence, warns perpetrators of their wrongdoings and the consequences of their behaviour and lastly works towards shifting cultural perspectives – educating peers that violence in any form is not to be tolerated.
Businesses Taking Action
BSP, Oil Search, Steamships, NCS, Nambawan Super and Hastings Deering are among the many businesses who have implemented the BCFW’s FSV policy. Although these businesses are very different from one another, the FSV policy has equal applicability and one of its strengths is that it can be adapted to suit individual business characteristics and requirements.
Indicative of this are the different measures businesses take to prevent the incidence of violence occurring as well as the various ways they support staff and respond to incidents they cannot prevent.
“BSP has shown exceptional leadership across PNG’s finance sector and indeed the broader corporate community when it comes to addressing FSV and supporting impacted staff” states Kennedy. Not only has BSP implemented an FSV policy it was also instrumental in the establishment of the private sector’s first women’s refuge and case management centre – ‘Bel Isi PNG’ – in Port Moresby in 2018. (*The Bel Isi PNG model is not just a first for PNG but also the world and something for which the PNG private sector should be commended.)
Head of Support Services at BSP, Alicia Sahib, fully embraces the importance of an FSV policy and advocates the need for such a policy to encompass leave guidance around absenteeism.
“When I first started working for BSP, as per policy, I let a female employee go due to absenteeism. This incident always remained at the back of my mind as I didn’t feel I really got to understand her ‘no show’ to work. As time passed I became aware of domestic violence suffered by employees, and to my dismay, I also learned the employee’s ‘no show’ was a result of domestic violence.”
Committed to ensuring women do not lose employment as a result of FSV, Sahib engaged the BCFW to review BSP’s workplace policy, ensuring it was in accord with best practice.
“Our FSV policy shows employees that we care. It allows employees to feel safe, to come forward, and when they do ask for help or leave, then each of our respective line managers know the appropriate steps to take.” Launched in May 2019, BSP’s FSV policy has had numerous survivor cases.
“When you look at the data associated with BSP’s FSV policy experience, as well as the experience of our other member businesses, you quickly come to realise that a policy driven and systematic approach to addressing FSV is not only a ‘life saver’ but a ‘cost saver’ too” enthuses Kennedy. “Staff welfare and safety improves, as does productivity, while costs associated with problems like absenteeism and staff turnover decrease.”
With a suite of culturally appropriate and best practice FSV resources now readily available to businesses via the BCFW, Taviri says the question is no longer “What can we do about FSV and the negative impact it has on our staff and our business?” Instead, the question is “Why isn’t our business doing something about FSV?”
To learn more about the BCFW and how it can help your business efficiently and compassionately combat FSV visit: www.pngbcfw.org. Additional resources are available to improve the leadership and management skills of talented female staff, to prepare senior female staff for executive level positions and board representation, as well as to increase the number of female owned businesses in supply chains.
The BCFW is PNG’s ‘go to’ resource for gender equality. It is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.