Standing up for women at Liz Claiborne

Sunday’s Washington Post carried a story about workplace outreach strategies for victims of domestic violence: Office Awareness Can Head Off Abuse At Home. It highlights corporations which are acting to protect and assist women and men in domestic violence situations. Liz Claiborne is apparently one of the most progressive companies in the country in this regard; it’s called the “gold standard” by Kay Wells, executive director of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence.

Liz Claiborne instituted its program after a survey found that 23% (!!) of its employees had been victims of domestic violence. They approach the program from a bottom line perspective, pointing out that domestic violence gives rise to absenteeism and and increased health-care costs for the company. (Although I did hesitate at the spokesperson who compared DV to “alcoholism and drug abuse”.)

The company sponsors a domestic violence awarness website, Love Is Not Abuse.

Key points of the Liz Claiborne policy (pdf) include:

  • Allowing short term leave for employees who want to leave violent households.
  • Assigning parking spaces in well-lit areas (this is so simple and easy for any business to do)
  • Making sure that communication with corporate security is kept confidential.
  • Removing employee’s names from telephone directories.
  • Instituting non-discrimination policies to cover victims of domestic violence.
  • Retaining the right to pursue disciplinary action or dismissal if employees are found to be engaging in acts or threats of domestic violence while at work or using company resources.

As well as protecting the bottom line, DV prevention policies also act to reduce the risk of workplace violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence don’t leave their violent behavior at the door in the morning. State Farm, another company mentioned in the piece, cites the stat that 28% of reported threats of violence in the workplace had a basis in domestic violence.

In March 2003, an employee’s husband was sent away from a Liz Claiborne distribution center because he didn’t have security clearance. He returned with a gun. The company’s security team got local police involved and locked down the facility, and after a standoff the husband was caught. The company’s security practices may have saved lives that day, said Mark Couch, a Claiborne human resources director.

So kudos, Liz Claiborne. And I like your shoes.

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4 Responses to “Standing up for women at Liz Claiborne”

  1. bread and roses Says:

    that’s awesome.

    And I love their clothing, so it’s nice to find that that my money is going somewhere worthwhile.

  2. annaphor Says:

    They also recently hired Tim Gunn (of Project Runway fame), so watch out for a little more punch to their style in coming months.

  3. bread and roses Says:

    I never looked for stuff with punch – mostly just pleasd to see that they had suit pants with adequate hip to waist ratios. but cool.

  4. Kara Says:

    They also have hang tags that list the national domestic violence hotline number — very cool way to get help to someone who might need it.

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