Corporate Leaders See Domestic Violence As A Major Problem That Affects Their Employees
America's corporate leaders have grown more aware of domestic violence as an issue that affects their employees and have become less likely to dismiss the issue's bottom-line impact on business, according to a survey conducted for Liz Claiborne Inc. as part of the company's 11-year domestic violence awareness campaign. Nine in 10 senior executives (91%) believe that domestic violence affects both the private lives and the working lives of their employees. Yet only 12 percent of corporate leaders surveyed say that corporations should play a major role in addressing the issue-the same percentage as when this question was first posed in 1994.
"America's corporate leaders understand the prevalence of domestic violence. They understand the bottom-line impact of domestic violence. In fact, more than half personally know people in their companies who have been affected by domestic violence. And yet they still think it is someone else's responsibility to deal with it," says Paul R. Charron, chairman and CEO, Liz Claiborne Inc. "That needs to change."
This survey benchmarks one conducted for Liz Claiborne Inc. in 1994. In both cases, most corporate leaders identified domestic violence as a major social issue (66% in 2002; 57% in 1994*). In fact, corporate leaders now rank domestic violence on par with terrorism (68%) as a major issue that affects society. But today, they are also significantly more likely to say that they are aware of employees in their company who have been affected by domestic violence (56% in 2002; 40% in 1994). And, while half thought that domestic violence had a negligible impact on the bottom line in 1994, this percentage has dropped significantly to just one-third (33%) saying so today.
Who Should Address Domestic Violence?
Corporate leaders still see domestic violence as more of a social problem than a business problem. When asked who should play a major role in addressing the issue, they continue to cite the family (97% in 2002; 96% in 1994*), social service organizations (89% in 2002; 92% in 1994*), the police (87% in 2002; 83% in 1994*) and the court system (77% in 2002; 85% in 1994*) as top choices. But today, corporate leaders are significantly more likely to see a major role for local government (72% in 2002; 54% in 1994), state government (62% in 2002; 40% in 1994) and even federal government (40% in 2002; 25% in 1994).
Not a Cost Issue
The 2002 survey asked corporate leaders about possible reasons why many U.S. companies do not have a domestic violence program in place today. When asked if it's because the cost of a domestic violence program is too great for companies, 59% disagreed. Instead, about two-thirds cited reasons based on corporate perceptions of the issue: companies do not realize the impact domestic violence has on employee and company performance (68%); companies do not believe having a domestic violence program in place will positively impact the bottom line (68%); companies believe domestic violence is a family problem, not a corporate problem (67%); and companies believe domestic violence should be addressed by law enforcement, not by them (67%).
The WOMEN'S WORK Program
For the past 11 years, Liz Claiborne Inc. has been deeply committed to supporting this issue through its "Women's Work" program, which has included public service announcements; t-shirts, free posters and brochures; fundraising; and the forging of partnerships with local retailers and community groups.
This report was based on telephone interviews with 100 senior executives in Fortune 1,000 companies across the United States. Corporations were selected at random from a current (2002) list of Fortune 1,000 companies. The results are representative of the views and opinions of this population of senior executives within a sampling error of +/- 9.8 percentage points on the totals. Interviewing was conducted between Aug. 19 and Sept. 10, 2002 by Roper ASW, a New York-based market research and public opinion polling firm. This is the second such study conducted by RoperASW among senior executives on this subject matter. The first study was conducted in 1994.
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*Change is not statistically significant.
Note: Additional survey findings are available upon request.