Why domestic violence is a workplace issue—and how companies can help

A staggering 20% of women in the United States. are estimated to have experienced domestic violence from a current or former partner. Domestic violence crosses demographics; it’s not related to one specific social group, ethnicity/race, or economic class. In addition, domestic violence comes in a variety of forms, including verbal, sexual, physical, emotional, and economic abuse.

The effects of domestic violence impact the workplace in ways like absenteeism and security concerns in cases of stalking or on-site harassment. Further, the workplace is often a direct target of abusers. Domestic violence relies on social isolation from family and friends in many cases. Without these support systems, coworkers may become the main form of outside contact/help for victims.

Domestic violence also may happen internally, between coworkers or between employees and clients. In these instances, issues such as divisions within teams, increased anxieties for those who are aware of a domestic violence situation, and stifled morale and productivity may occur.

Companies have the power to address domestic violence and create a better, safer workspace for their employees. Here are a few ways employers can help:

  • Foster a company culture that empowers employees to support one another formally and informally. With a strong culture of support, coworkers may find it easier to step up and into the role of a support system for those in need.
  • Provide managers with readily available training on how to handle situations of, or suspected, domestic violence on their team. If a manager is unsure of how to handle situations of abuse, having materials on hand can give them a strong baseline of solutions before addressing or escalating the issue with others.
  • Role model healthy ways to relate to one another. Domestic violence victims may learn to view relationships as strictly transactional. Relationships that are supportive and reciprocal create a cycle of support, then growth, and the opportunity to pay forward help received. Company sponsored programs like career assistance or peer-to-peer advising demonstrate healthy, reciprocal relationships.

Our foundation and the campaign to end domestic violence

At Blue Shield of California, ending domestic violence is a cause we support through the extensive work of our foundation.

The Blue Shield of California Foundation is an organization funded entirely by contributions from Blue Shield of California. The Foundation works with the mission of supporting lasting, equitable solutions to end domestic violence.*

Millions in grants each year are provided by the Blue Shield of California Foundation, giving funding and support to organizations working to further the Foundation’s mission. In 2022, the Foundation distributed $29.5 million in grants to local and national organizations.  

One of the 2022 grantees, a coalition of organizations known as All In For Kids, works to prevent the transfer of domestic violence across generations. Their work aligns with the Foundation’s strategy of prevention by addressing the root causes of domestic violence.

Public policy in support of ending domestic violence is an important way of confronting the issue. The foundation is partnering with the National Network to End Domestic Violence in anticipation of the White House’s National Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence. Funding from our foundation will help implement the action plan, providing resources to make the policy changes effective as soon as possible.

Check out the Blue Shield of California Foundation homepage for more on their mission, strategy, and grantee organizations. Subscribe to their newsletter, Intersections, here.

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* The Blue Shield of California Foundation is an independent organization. Blue Shield of California Health Plan has no influence over grant making decisions.