Understanding Society

It’s a business problem: Intimate partner violence and the Turkish workplace

A widespread problem

The experience of intimate partner violence is unfortunately all too common among women working in the Turkish private sector. According to a study that Ipsos has been conducting for Sabanci University Corporate Governance Forum’s Business Against Domestic Violence Project since 20147 , three-quarters (75%) of white collar working women have experienced at least one type of violent behavior from their intimate partners in the last five years. Psychological and emotional violence is most common (64%), followed by social violence which includes acts such as becoming angry when talking with other men and controlling where the woman goes and whom she meets (52%), physical violence (23%), and economic violence (23%)8 . As Nata Duvvury and Stacey Scriver point out in their article, the effects of violence can be limiting for women’s career advacement. However, the effects of violence also cost employers money through staff absences and poor performance. Initimate partner violence is a issue for both the public and the private sector. 

Women do not seek help from the workplace 

According to our study, almost all (91%) working men and women think that intimate partner violence impacts work life either considerably or completely. However, companies or employers are not seen as a source of support in cases of violence, as only 8% of men and women would consider seeking support from someone in the workplace, like managers, human resources staff, or colleagues. Almost half of the women surveyed (45%) stated that they would be embarrassed to share their experience of violence with their managers. 

There are a myriad of things the private sector can do to combat intimate partner violence 

Companies have a role to play

Although most people do not see the workplace as part of the solution, there are a myriad of things the private sector can do to combat intimate partner violence and minimise its adverse effects on survivors. The Business Against Domestic Violence (BADV) Project is an example of an initiative that implements support mechanisms in the workplace, while providing tools, methods and best practices to companies. To date, 51 companies have created a Domestic Violence Policy for their employees. The BADV project’s recommended approaches include developing training programs that target all employees in order to create awareness around the definition and the perception of violence, defining psychological counselling as a part of the health benefit plans of the employees, offering employees who are at risk the option of relocation to a different work place, and closely monitoring and penalising cases of workplace violences. Last but not least, there are measures companies can take to prevent the perpetration of violence within working hours or the facilities of the company9 .

Violence against women is a multifaceted issue which pervades all aspects of life, including the home, work and social spheres. Solutions, therefore, must be holistic, drawing in a wide range of actors. Intimate partner violence is a business problem, and private sector companies have a crucial role to play in tackling it. And as the research presented in these two articles suggests, it makes business sense for companies to do so.

Nuray Özbay
Ipsos Turkey