Will Putting A Dollar Amount On Domestic Violence Suffering Finally Get Companies To Act?

New research shows how domestic violence can impact a company’s bottom line. Will this depressing perspective finally get companies to care?

Will Putting A Dollar Amount On Domestic Violence Suffering Finally Get Companies To Act?
[Image: Flickr user Antonin]

The statistics on how many women are victims of domestic violence are startling and depressing, and likely have impacted someone you work with.


When one in four women are victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, it’s naive to think it hasn’t happened to someone in your company.

Most companies, however, view domestic abuse as a personal problem–more than 70% of workplaces lack a formal policy for dealing with it, according to a new study out of Canada’s Prince Edward Island University–and the problem is compounded by the shame and secrecy victims are made to feel.

The study explored the relationship between violence at home, and suffering at work, in hopes of proving the business case for why employers should take action to help domestic violence victims.

Researcher Michelle Harris-Genge used an algorithm to crunch the numbers on domestic violence and corporate cost. Her calculations are adapted to the Canadian workforce, based on a calculator by Texas Health, where you can plug in your own company’s numbers and get the (probably depressing) personalized statistics.

As an example, we entered Google’s employee diversity data and average hourly salary into the Texas Health version:

A company like Google loses more than $4,600,000 a year on domestic violence-related costs.


Harris-Genge writes:

In the United States, 10% of women (11,886,000) have missed at least one day of work or school as a result of intimate partner violence. At minimum, using a 7.5-hour workday as a measurement, this equates to 89,145,000 hours of missed work due to family violence.

The study outlined steps companies can take to change these statistics, starting with support opportunities for victims, citing the work of researchers from Cornell, who designed and analyzed a workplace training module called “Men and Women As Allies.” Following that training program:

  • 97% of male participants said they’d be more willing to discuss men’s role in stopping violence against women
  • 99% said they’d be more willing to take on a leadership effort in the effort to stop violence against women
  • 99% said they would be more willing to take on a leadership role in the effort to eliminate bullying behavior and workplace violence
  • 67% said their response will change towards a fellow employee or union member who is experiencing domestic violence
  • 70% would now do something to help

Converting personal tragedy and women’s safety to corporate cost should make you uncomfortable. That’s the point.

Unfortunately, talking money makes many businesses sit up and listen. Assigning a dollar amount on an issue with far greater, intangible cost gives corporations a common unit of measurement and a different perspective on a problem that most have ignored.


About the author

Freelance tech, science and culture writer. Find Sam on the Internet: @samleecole.