How the Private sector can Address the Issue of Gender-based Violence

Professor

Corné Davis

(She/Her)

Associate Professor

Faculty of Social Sciences

University of Johannesburg

Corné Davis is a gender-based violence and gender identity activist employed as associate professor at Department of Strategic Communication at University of Johannesburg in South Africa.
South African

Overview

There is a need for a multidisciplinary approach involving anthropologists, philosophers, political scientists, sociologists, basically all types of social scientists. The problem of gender-based violence also needs to be framed properly, and it needs to be narrowed down to its roots components.

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Key Findings

There is not enough participation in initiatives to curb gender-based violence yet.
Companies and company executives are unaware that issues of gender-based violence affect employees, including employees from affluent areas. It is not just poor areas, gender-based violence occurs everywhere.
Most victims of gender-based violence remain silent because of society's tendency to stigmatise and blame victims, rather than perpetrators. Gender-based violence is social constructed and society needs to construct inclusion and support for both victims and perpetrators.

    How to apply research

    There needs to be a multidisciplinary approach to addressing gender-based violence. Social scientists of all disciplines have to come together and research solutions, understand the root causes.
    At present, gender-based violence does not feature in corporate social responsibility indices explicitly. While most organisations subscribe to sexual harassment policies, even those are often not monitored effectively, as in the much publicised recent case of Rio Tinto.
    Social scientists need to ensure that the topic of gender-based violence is addressed in mainstream social scientific journals so that it can get the attention it calls for.

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      About this research

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

      Recommended for

      About this research

      This research was independently conducted and did not receive funding from outside of the university.

      Recommended for

      Background

      The cost of gender-based violence globally is estimated to be around 1.5 trillion dollars. Despite efforts since the 1970s, we don’t have success stories we can point out to, we don’t see the progress that we need.

      Part of the reason is that there is a link between the desensitisation of society and the low exposure to these topics. It’s not one out of three women in in Bosnia or South Africa that is subjected to gender-based violence. It’s everywhere, every country in the world. More than 90 percent of cases are never reported, the perpetrator conviction rate is about two to three percent.

      What findings means

      The main finding of this study was that there is not enough participation in initiatives to curb gender-based violence yet. Stakeholder engagement about those issues is very low, and it doesn’t feature much on company lists of corporate social responsibility issues or investor issues.

      Another interesting finding was that companies and company executives are unaware that issues of gender-based violence affect employees, including employees from affluent areas. But gender-based violence does not just occur in poor neighbourhoods. It occurs everywhere, in all companies, from low-level employees to top-level executives.

      Methodology

      The study was a mixture of a qualitative content analysis of annual integrated reports, interviews with members of the private sector such as chief executive officers at companies and c-suite members and survey research on the general public.

      The participation of employees in our surveys constituted a limitation since many did not want to participate when they saw that the questions were about gender-based violence.

      Glossary

      Corporate social responsiveness
      Organisations' readiness and propensity to respond to sustainability issues that affect their stakeholders, including employees.
      Gender-based violence
      Any form of physical, verbal, emotional, or psychological violence directed against a person because of their gender.
      Employee well-being
      The overall mental, physical, emotional and financial well-being of people employed by an organisation.

      Share these insights

      Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

      Davis, C. (2020). How the Private sector can Address the Issue of Gender-based Violence. Journal of Injury and Violence Prevention, 18 (1), 106-115.