Employers can play valuable role in domestic violence response

This International Women’s Day, the National Council of Women of New Zealand is encouraging employers to take more action to progress gender equality and take a stand against domestic violence.

NCWNZ President Rae Duff says most employers are aware of the gender pay gap and underrepresentation of women at senior levels within the workplace but there is still a lot that needs to be done.

“Good employers already know the positive impact diversity has on their bottom line. They are acting to ensure employees are equally rewarded and sexism doesn’t exist in hiring and promotion practices. We see various high profile corporates leading the way as they invest in programmes working to achieve gender equality.

“There has also been a recent report showing that workplaces are ideal environments for raising awareness of and intervening in domestic violence. The New Zealand Violence Against Women study shows that one in three women in New Zealand experience intimate partner violence.

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse report says many victims of domestic violence are in paid employment. Staying in employment is particularly important for victims as it provides financial security and a way to escape from the relationship.”

The Clearinghouse says that employers can help by including provisions in employment agreements such as special paid leave for victims and flexible working arrangements. Workplaces may also partner with victim support agencies for referrals and in-house training so staff can identify and deal with violence.

“From an economic perspective, by better supporting victims of violence employers can avoid costs associated with absenteeism and lower productivity. More importantly, they can establish healthier and happier workplaces. But most of all, it is the right thing to do.

“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, on March 8, is Make It Happen. We ask employers to do what they can to help make gender equality happen.”


For more information contact Communications Advisor Claire Newton on 04 473 7623 or 027 723 8904.

Visit www.ncwnz.org.nz to find out more about the National Council of Women.

For more information on International Women’s Day in New Zealand visit http://www.unwomen.org.nz/international-womens-day

To see research on domestic violence and the workplace visit https://nzfvc.org.nz/news/new-nzfvc-issues-paper-intimate-partner-violence-and-workplace

Employers interested in doing more to support women’s equality can visit http://www.unwomen.org/en/partnerships/businesses-and-foundations/womens-empowerment-principles


Statistics relevant to the media release are:

  • A third of NZ women will experience some form of physical or sexual intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime (The New Zealand Violence Against Women study).
  • NZ has a gender pay gap of 9.9% (Ministry for Women). This means women earn $18.02 to every $20 earned by men.
  • Women are underrepresented in leadership and governance roles. Of the 121 seats in Parliament, only 36 (29%) are occupied by women.

Some top tips for employers on ways to improve each of these areas are:

  • Addressing unconscious bias – Beliefs and values gained from family, culture and a lifetime of experiences heavily influence how we view and evaluate both others and ourselves. This can lead to missed opportunities and often stops people, particularly women, from reaching the top. Employers can address this by implementing workshops and courses in the workplace, educating themselves and others on the issue, and by being aware of any biases they may have. Learn more – http://www.tolerance.org/activity/test-yourself-hidden-bias
  • Eliminating the gender pay gap – The persistence of the gender pay gap not only hurts women and their families but is also damaging for employee loyalty and productiveness. Employers can eliminate the gap through initiatives such as periodic salary reviews specifically assessing equality or using a formula to calculate team members’ salaries. Find out more about the pay gap in NZ – http://cevepnz.org.nz/Gender%20pay%20gap/gender%20pay%20gap.htm
  • Enabling flexible employment – Employees, employers, the economy and communities can all benefit from flexible employment. Such arrangements address challenges faced by parents and carers, facilitate women’s participation in the labour market, enable better choices for working parents, and promote family wellbeing. They also have positive business benefits and contribute to increased staff retention and loyalty, improved productivity and efficiency and reduced absenteeism. Learn more – http://women.govt.nz/our-work/economic-independence/paid-and-unpaid-work/flexible-work


Fanslow JL, Robinson E. Sticks, Stones, or Words? Counting the Prevalence of Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence Reported by New Zealand Women. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma. 2011; 20: 741–759.

Fanslow JL, Robinson EM, Crengle S, Perese L. Juxtaposing beliefs and reality: Prevalence rates of intimate partner violence and attitudes to violence and gender roles by New Zealand Women. Violence Against Women. 2010; 16: 812‐831.

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