Validium – H9: Domestic violence

Having witnessed firsthand the devastating effect that domestic violence can have, Validium was keen to become one of the first employers to sign the domestic violence pledge.

The challenge

As the UK’s leading provider of psychological health services, The Validium Group provides Employee Assistance Programmes, trauma management, resilience training and rehabilitation services to some of the UK’s best-known employers.

During the course of helping over 30,000 employees a year to address any issue affecting their ability to work, ranging from stress and anxiety to bereavement, financial worries and, yes, violence at home, it became apparent that domestic violence is still very much affecting workers from across all sections of society.

In the UK, two women are killed by their partner or a former partner every week, with a staggering one in four women and one in six men affected by domestic violence during their adult lives. The scale of the problem is such that an organisation employing just 1,000 people will have around ten employees living with domestic violence at any time.

Even so, the vast majority of domestic violence incidents go unreported. For many victims, work, and the confidential support services provided through work, is often the only place they feel safe admitting that they need help. Not only to safely leave their partner, but get the right financial planning to do so, the right legal advice to deal with any custody issues and the right emotional support to separate themselves from someone who, despite everything, they might still love.

After helping a number of domestic violence victims to utilise the emotional, financial and legal advice services provided through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to start building a new life and performing at work again, we wanted to ensure that any staff who might be affected within our own workforce were given the same opportunity to access appropriate help.

The approach

In response, Validium set about creating and communicating a dedicated Domestic Violence policy to raise awareness of the issue and clarify its intention to support any staff affected.

To demonstrate its commitment to promoting a workplace where people are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity, Validium also went on to sign the Department of Health’s Domestic Violence Pledge, further clarifying its intention to ‘do everything it can to prevent stalking, violence or abuse either in the workplace of that has an effect on people in the workplace.’

It defined domestic violence as both physical behaviours, such as assault, rape, stalking and threats of violence, and non-physical behaviours such as destructive criticism and oppressive control of finances.

All employees and managers were made aware of the new workplace policy and our decision to sign up to the pledge via an email communication from one of our co-founders and executive directors. The communication stated clearly that any employee experiencing domestic violence can raise the issue in the knowledge that Validium will treat the matter effectively, sympathetically and confidentially.

The policy was made accessible to all employees via our intranet and employees encouraged to call our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) for confidential, professional, support in the first instance if they were in anyway affected.

The results

The policy and Validium’s commitment to publicly acknowledging the extent to which the problem could well be affecting its own workforce was very well received by employees and clients alike.

To the best of its knowledge, none of the 82 employees currently employed are affected by domestic violence, but the directors are confident that the appropriate policies and support have now been put in place should this become an issue for someone in the future.

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