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Think Business, Think Equality: New guidance for SMEs on supporting staff affected by domestic abuse during COVID-19

The current self-isolation and social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19 are exacerbating women’s experiences of domestic abuse as they become isolated in their homes with their abuser for longer periods of time. There is also restricted access to support networks or specialist services such as Women’s Aid during lockdown.

Employers have a key role to play in supporting women who may be experiencing domestic abuse during this period. Line managers and colleagues may be the only consistent contact for victim-survivors and could provide a critical link for accessing support.

Close the Gap has developed guidance for SMEs on best practice in supporting victim-survivors of domestic abuse during COVID-19. The guidance outlines the impact of the pandemic on women’s experience of domestic abuse, and what that means for the workplace, and provides simple steps that employers can take to support employees and respond to disclosures. By understanding women’s experiences of domestic abuse and the way that COVID-19 affects victim-survivors, you’ll be better able to support your employees, and protect your business.

The guidance is a new resource on Close the Gap’s free online self-assessment tool for SMEs, Think Business, Think Equality. Think Business, Think Equality enables businesses to assess their current employment practice and provides tailored advice and an action plan which sets out the simple steps you can take so that your business can realise the benefits of gender equality and diversity.

The new guidance accompanies existing free resources on domestic abuse which includes:

  • guidance on domestic abuse and employment;
  • an FAQ on domestic abuse and work;
  • good practice examples;
  • workplace resources; and
  • useful links including signposting to specialist support organisations.

Think Business, Think Equality also includes resources on key aspects of employment practice including flexible working, workplace culture, pay and reward, progression and promotion, pregnancy and maternity, and job segregation.

Businesses that take steps to support employees will benefit in a range of ways. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of key people at work means that you’re more likely to retain the skills and experience of female talent. By recognising the potential impact of domestic abuse on employees and their colleagues, you’re minimising the risk to your business.

Delivering workplace equality makes good business sense. Having fair and flexible working practices allows you to attract and retain the best talent, reduce recruitment and training costs, and it makes your business more productive, more innovative, and more profitable. Evidence shows that gender equality at work is not just good for women, but is also a critical driver for improved business performance, and a worldwide catalyst for economic growth. Crucially closing the gender gap in employment is worth up to £17 billion to the Scottish economy.

Find out how your business can benefit from gender equality and diversity. Take the Think Business, Think Equality test on domestic abuse at www.thinkbusinessthinkequality.org.uk.

Want to know more about business benefits of gender equality? Watch one of our 30 second films.

If you’re on the move, you can download the Think Business, Think Equality app for iOS, Android or Windows.

You can read the guidance here.

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