Taking a stand on violence against women

DP World saw the important role it could play in educating its workforce about violence against women

One in three women around the world will suffer domestic violence in their lifetime. This major societal problem needs to be addressed on various fronts.

As CEO of DP World Australia – a business working in the traditionally male-dominated areas of shipping, ports and logistics – I knew we had an opportunity to engage with and educate a large number of people on this vital issue. With several thousand employees, 93% of which are men, we wanted to lead the way by showing our commitment to tackling violence against women and to encourage inclusion, equality and respect.

The urgent need for action was underlined by the current situation facing women in Australia, where one in five experiences harassment in their workplace, and at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner.

We care about people’s safety both inside and outside our terminal gates, and wanted to show our commitment to actively preventing and responding to violence against women. One of the key ways to do so is to educate and engage employees and create a culture that shows zero tolerance to harassment or intimidation of women, inside the workplace and beyond.

So we decided to become a White Ribbon Workplace. The White Ribbon Campaign is a male-led organisation that focuses on the positive role men can play in helping prevent violence against women, and is currently present in more than 60 countries. Its workplace accreditation programme, which aims to build greater equality and respect between male and female employees, is independently evaluated, piloted and referenced by a group of HR, human rights, domestic violence and education professionals.

The steps we took to achieve accreditation included introducing a workplace behaviour policy, which covers all aspects of inappropriate workplace behaviour. It also gives staff clear guidance about compliance with the policy, reporting inappropriate behaviour, and what actions will be taken in light of a complaint. In addition, we implemented a domestic violence support policy, which sets out our procedures for managing issues of violence against women and ensures unlimited leave for victims, should they need it.

As well as implementing these policies, we showed over an 18-month period how we were educating staff and publicising our stance on domestic violence. For example, we ensured the issue of domestic violence was raised in all staff inductions so employees are clear on our policies, procedures and workplace culture. Following our collective efforts, White Ribbon recommended DP World Australia should be a demonstration business for other employers in the country.

It is one year since we became one of the first Australian workplaces to be accredited by White Ribbon, and we are hugely proud of what we have achieved. Our work on domestic violence has reached more than 1,800 employees, both male and female, and staff surveys show an increased awareness of the issue and why we are tackling it.

But our efforts are far from complete, and we continue to promote greater awareness of violence against women to both our workforce and the wider public. I recently spoke at the Australian Logistics Council Diversity and Inclusion Summit, encouraging the shipping and logistics industry – which has a predominantly male workforce – to take an active role in educating their employees about domestic violence.

Violence against women must end; by bringing the issue to the fore in many more workplaces we can help ensure that it does.

Paul Scurrah is CEO of DP World Australia