Nobody knows more about the impact of partner violence on the workplace - and how businesses should address it.
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Best Practices
Cigna became a member of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence in December of 1997. Cathy Hawkes, (then Assistant Vice President, Working Well), and her team were eager to get education and prevention information about partner violence out to their 40,000 employees. But they had a problem not unique to their company — how to get this important information to employees at various sites throughout the country. Meetings were not a practical solution for them. What did they do?

Cigna's Working Well team came up with the idea of a "Fax on Demand" service for employees. In addition to information on partner violence provided through newsletters and payroll stuffers, Cigna employees can confidentially request and receive faxes on topics such as "Getting Help - Who To Call," "Abuse and Abusive Relationships - How Does It Happen?" and "Partner Violence At The Workplace – What Coworkers Can Do." On each "fax on demand" page, important telephone numbers are listed such as corporate security, EAP, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Cigna used information from the CAEPV CommuniKit to develop the faxes and other information/education items.

Cathy Hawkes says that since Cigna started the "fax on demand" service, they consistently receive many requests each month for the documents. Requests are anonymous, of course, so employees do not have to be concerned with anyone else knowing they are requesting the information. Cathy says it is gratifying to know that those in need, or those interested in the issue of partner violence, are finding the information through Cigna's Working Well program.

Cigna has partnered with Safe Horizons of New York to develop a continuing medical education program designed to help physicians integrate domestic violence screening and referral into their routine clinical practices. Available on CD-ROM, and through Cigna's web site, the program includes protocols for doctors to assess, treat, document, and refer victims. Cigna also sponsored the “Love's Not Supposed to Hurt” dating violence program at fifteen college campuses.

In 2000, the Cigna Foundation funded the play "Rule of Thumb" in four cities throughout the country to a variety of people, including employees (approximately 40,000), district attorneys, and local organizations. The play dramatically illustrates the social, medical, and legal impact of partner violence through interweaving personal scenarios. Following each performance, audience members engaged in a discussion with community leaders about the play and its message. Performances in Atlanta, Chicago, Hartford and Philadelphia were so successful that groups in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. have inquired to see if Cigna will bring "Rule of Thumb" to their communities as well.

In 2001 Cigna chose to "break with tradition" and dedicate the month of July as Worksite Violence/Partner Violence Month. They found that for their company, so many activities are going on in October (Domestic Violence Awareness Month) that it was difficult to have a focus on partner violence — so they picked their own month! They introduced a seminar for managers titled "Partner Violence and the Workplace: The Manager's Role" presented jointly by Cigna Behavioral Health and Corporate Security.

In 2002, Cigna once again chose July as a month to highlight partner violence. Cigna's Working Well program created a new partner violence poster to remind employees that partner violence is EVERYONE'S business. The new poster urges employees to notify Security and EAP if they detect the telltale signs of partner violence, and includes information on how to get help through resources available at CIGNA. Partner violence was highlighted in the July newsletter sent to all Working Well Site Coordinators, who were encouraged to put the posters in as many places as possible at their particular work sites.

September 25 and 26, 2002 — Cigna presented "Violence Awareness Days" in their Bloomfield, Connecticut offices. The program highlighted not only partner violence, but also general workplace violence, hate crimes, and other violence that may affect the lives of employees. While similar to a health fair, the event had an "art show" feel with walk-in cubicles containing large posters of newspaper articles related to domestic, workplace, and other types of violence. Sentences like “We never thought he would do something like this — he was a model employee” were pulled from the articles and highlighted to draw attention to the “real life” face of violence. Also included was a continuous video from Cigna Corporate Security on personal security. Working Well, Corporate Security, and EAP all participated and provided resource information to those attending the event. Cigna ordered 200 of CAEPV's pins to give away, and also used raffles to encourage employees to participate. Cigna may send the program on the road to other Cigna locations.
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