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CEO & Employee Survey 2007 
Corporate Leaders and America's Workforce on Domestic Violence
  • The employee survey provides clear evidence that domestic violence in the workplace is pervasive: 1 In 4 women in the workplace identify as a domestic violence survivor or victim
      
  • The majority of executives and employees at nation's largest companies recognize significant impact of domestic violence on productivity and the bottom line 
       
  • Only 13% of executives say corporations should address domestic violence in a strong concerted way; in sharp contrast, 9 out of 10 employees say businesses should be part of the solution 
On September 25, 2007 a groundbreaking survey on corporate executives and employee awareness of the impact of domestic violence in the workplace was released. Surprisingly, the survey shows that a significant majority of corporate executives and their employees from the nation's largest companies recognize the harmful and extensive impact of domestic violence in the workplace, yet only 13% of corporate executives think their companies should address the problem. 

The attitudes of executives differ dramatically from an overwhelming majority of employees (84%) who believe that corporations should be a part of the solution to addressing domestic violence. Although nearly 2 in 3 corporate executives (63%) say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and 55% cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, a majority of top executives have blinders on when it comes to seeing the reality of domestic violence victims working in their own companies. 

On average, corporate executives estimate that only 6% of their full-time employees are victims or survivors of domestic violence, compared to employees who guess 3 times as many (18%). In fact, the survey provides stunning evidence of the pervasiveness of domestic violence among America's workforce-1 in 4 female employees (26%) identify as a victim or survivor of domestic violence. Nearly 1 in 4 employees (22%) also report that they have worked with a co-worker who was a victim.

The survey, "Corporate Leaders and America's Workforce on Domestic Violence" commissioned by Safe Horizon, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, and Liz Claiborne Inc., which benchmarks two previous surveys, demonstrates that the number of corporate executives who cite the harmful impact of domestic violence on their companies has increased significantly since 2002 and 1994 when the first two corporate executives surveys were completed. 

Percentage of corporate executives and employees who say that domestic violence has a harmful effect on the following:
America's Workforce
Corporate Executives
2007
(%)
2007
(%)
2002
(%)
1994
(%)
Employee attendance
85
70
60
56
Employee productivity
80
55
48
49
Insurance and medical costs
65
61
50
44
Employee turnover
45
45
29
26

The findings also uncovered that the vast majority (70%) of corporate executives believe that domestic violence has had a harmful effect on employee attendance at their company. While 91% of all employees state that domestic violence has a negative impact on their company's bottom line, only 43% of corporate executives agree. 

Additionally, despite the fact that more corporate executives consider domestic violence a major problem than inadequate health care 60%, alcoholism 49% and racial discrimination 39%, they are still resistant to the premise that companies have a strong role in addressing the issue. A clear barrier to corporate executives taking action is their perception that domestic violence does not affect their own employees. More than 7 in 10 corporate executives (71%) do not perceive domestic violence as a major issues at their company and nearly 2 in 3 (63%) believe that the impact of domestic violence in the workplace at their company is minimal. 

In strong contrast to the corporate executives attitudes, the overwhelming majority of employees want corporations to play a major role in addressing domestic violence at work. Among employee findings: 
  • More than 4 in 5 employees (82%) believe that companies can make a difference by addressing domestic violence
  • Nearly all employees surveyed (98%) agree that domestic violence impacts victims in their work lives
  • 9 in 10 (90%) say it is appropriate for companies to offer programs and services that address the issue of domestic violence
"It is an employer's responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all employees, and not addressing domestic violence in the workplace can be a failure to do that," says Bill McComb, Chief Executive Officer, Liz Claiborne Inc. "Companies need to create a culture of openness and transparency and this is something we, at Liz Claiborne Inc., work at every day." 

According to the survey, lack of communication between executives and employees is a critical issue that prevents corporate executives from implementing policies and assistance to help victims of domestic violence. Employees admit that the number one barrier to putting into practice programs in their companies is that they are not asking for it. More than 9 in 10 employees say their companies would be more likely to commit to addressing domestic violence if women in their company requested it. Similarly, nearly 4 out of 5 corporate executives (78%) say they would be more likely to implement programs if their female employees asked for it. 

"Society has made great strides is recognizing domestic violence as a critical issue-it's now time for people to realize that domestic violence not just affects working life, but is a workplace issue," says Kim Wells, Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence. 

"CEOs can not afford to ignore the emotional, financial, and legal ramifications of domestic violence in the workplace-they need to recognize it affects their not only their employees well-being, but also their company's bottom line," states Scott Millstein, Interim Chief Executive Officer, Safe Horizon.

The survey results were presented during a roundtable discussion featuring CEOs of major corporations from Liz Claiborne Inc., Phillips-Van Heusen, Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, and USI Holdings Corporation, who are committed to taking action, leading change and raising awareness on behalf of their employees. 

To view the PowerPoint, click here.
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