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


Corné Davis


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

Key Takeaways

    How To Apply Insights

    • 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 harrassment 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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    Why This Research Matters

    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. In spite of all the resources allocated globally. 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.

    Findings & Research Conclusions

    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, especially employees from affluent areas. But gender-based violence does not just occur in poor neighborhoods. It occurs everywhere, in all companies, from low-level exmployees to top-level executives.

    Research's 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.

    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.


    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.

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

    Reference this research

    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.

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