Sunday, October 7, 2012

Action in Leadership

Business leaders today have so much on their plate in trying to lead their team toward success.  Good leadership requires that all stakeholders are considered when making business decisions.  The community, the customers, the stockholders are all vital considerations to the success of the business.  However, the smart players look at their roles as having a responsibility for their employees first.  The most successful businesses have business leaders who always look at their employees as not only good and needed assets, but as part of a growing family working toward a common goal or mission.  This is a great responsibility business leaders should not take lightly.  It means that if there has to be layoffs, that as a business leader, you hurt for those being let go and that you do all that you can to provide for them and their families.  I realize this goes against the grain of what is widely accepted today as good business sense, but it in fact creates a healthier bottom line.  It also means that when an employee is hospitalized that you visit them, care for them, and make sure their needs are met.  It doesn't mean that you rely on Cigna or Aetna to handle it.  It means that when your employees fail, you train them; when they succeed, you celebrate them; when they cry, you taste salt; and when they are in danger, you do everything in your power to protect them.

Included in protecting your employees is to protect them from an abuser.  That's right.  It is your job.  We still have many business leaders in our community who believe that
domestic violence means "at-home violence."  I could easily sway business leaders by spouting off statistics like $75 billion is spent annually by businesses due directly to domestic violence.  Sixty-eight percent of the costs from assaults and 63 percent of the costs from self-inflicted injuries were in males aged 15 to 44.  Do you have any males in that age range in your workforce?  I could let you know that while working or on duty, U.S. residents experienced 1.7 million violent victimizations annually from 2000 to 2007 including 1.3 million simple assaults, 325,000 aggravated assaults, 36,500 rapes and sexual assaults, 70,000 robberies, and 900 homicides, and that workplace violence accounted for 18% of all violent crime between 2000 to 2007.  I could also share that most of the $75 billion in costs associated with violence were from lost productivity ($64.4 billion), with the remaining $5.6 billion spent on medical care.  I know that those figures have an impact and that it does get the attention of business leaders, but it shouldn't take that information to sway you to do the right thing.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  If you have not taken any action to protect your employees and to educate your team on domestic violence, please do so this week.  It doesn't take long and it doesn't cost you.  It is a simple three-step process:

First, simply adopt a domestic violence policy to include in your employee handbook. This policy provides guidelines and resources that you can customize for your business.

Next, assign a point person to act as a liaison between the victim (we consider them "survivors"), and available resources.  This person is not a counselor, expert domestic violence professional, or law enforcement officer.  It is a person with a heart who cares for others.  This is the person that the employee/survivor can turn to for help.  The point person simply opens doors for the survivor.

Finally, go through a short training class through Harbor House of Central Florida.  These loving folks will come to your office and provide your staff with the proper training and resources.  This seminar teaches you how to recognize domestic violence and what to say and not say to the survivor.  The course will open your eyes.  I had one business leader tell me before the course that he doesn't have any employees in his workplace with bruises or bleeding lips.  After the course, he was amazed at his lack of understanding.

Please do the right thing.  Implement the policy, assign a point person, and take the class.  Show responsibility for your team members.


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