The support provided by the new policy includes an allocation of 10 days fully-paid leave and makes resources such as free access to the company’s Employee Assistance Program
JOHANNESBURG – South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. To resolve the problem in the workplace, Vodacom has stepped up its efforts to protect its employees from gender based violence by implementing a new global policy. The policy supports employees affected by domestic violence or abuse.
This because the impact of domestic violence or abuse does not just stop at home, it also has a considerable impact on the work life of those affected.
The support provided by the new policy includes an allocation of 10 days fully-paid leave and makes available resources such as free access to the company’s Employee Assistance Program which provides counselling and life management tools – as well as the 24-hour victim support and counselling call centre, the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre.
In addition to this, Vodacom will be providing staff training and awareness on domestic violence and abuse and will offer new safety measures to victims at work, which could include location or schedule transfers and a change of work patterns and contact details where required.
With an already stark gap between men and women in the workforce, violence and abuse contributes to patterns of gender inequality that persist within the labour market.
Abusers will often try to prevent victims from getting to work, cause them to be late or miss work, and can excessively call, e-mail or text victims while they are at work. This can not only negatively affect them both physically and emotionally, but can also negatively affect their performance causing victims to lose their jobs – a major source of independence and freedom away from their abusers – and can make victims feel as if they have nowhere to turn to.
The study commissioned by Vodafone Foundation surveyed 4,715 working women and men across nine countries (UK, Germany, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa, Kenya, India, Italy and Spain). It found that more than 1 in 3 (37%) working people surveyed across multiple industries and at varying levels of seniority had experienced domestic abuse:
Matimba Mbungela, Chief Human Resources Officer for Vodacom Group said: “Through this policy, Vodacom will be able to make sure that our workplace can be a safe haven to those women and men who are faced with the struggles of a violent or abusive home environment. It is also one of the ways that Vodacom is working to level the playing field in what is a particularly male-dominated industry by lessening the factors preventing women from effectively participating in the workplace.”
Through its partnership with the Department of Social Development, the mobile network operator has invested over R6 million towards the infrastructure set-up and running of the national GBV Command Centre, a first of its kind, operating 24/7 and employing professional Social Workers to support survivors of abuse.
To date the Centre has received more than 300 000 calls and more than 150 000 USSDs and SMS’s, showing that the centre is making a meaningful impact in society as many victims trust and recognise it as an avenue for support and comfort.
Additionally, the Vodacom Foundation GBV Walk, in support of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, which encourages mass mobilisation of communities to promote active participation in the fight to eradicate violence against women and children, has seen significant growth with over 500 people taking part in the Walk in November 2018.
To intensify the fight against women and children abuse, Vodacom plans to introduce Nokaneng; a smartphone application that provides women and girls (as well as men and boys) with a safe space for information, support and advice on gender based violence. The app has been a great success in addressing gender-based challenges in Lesotho.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Vodacom Group concluded: “Gender-based violence is a societal challenge that requires collaboration from all South Africans, and Africans. Whether young or old, men and women, whatever race, rank, age, gender or social class, and more especially in the digital age, gender-based violence knows no borders. We will continue to champion the fight against gender based violence in order to shine a light on those who have long been left to be and feel invisible,”