Businesses take aim at domestic violence
A women adjusts flowers at a memorial service for Ravinder Bhangu at the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society in Surrey on Aug. 3, 2011. Bhangu was stabbed to death by her husband Manmeet Singh.
Two prominent business groups are making the case that while domestic violence has devastating effects on self-esteem, morale and health, spousal abuse also hurts the bottom line.
“When you have a staff person who feels defeated because of an incident at home, it affects morale, productivity and teamwork in their workplace,” said Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman. “For a person facing domestic abuse, it is very difficult for them to open up because their morale is defeated and they do not want anyone to think badly of them either.”
The Surrey Board of Trade and the South Surrey-White Rock Chamber of Commerce jointly released a statement Tuesday about the impact of domestic abuse on businesses, listing health costs, absenteeism, stress leave and even abusers endangering workplace safety.
Last June, Surrey resident Manmeet Singh was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 16 years for murdering his wife Ravinder Bhangu, 23, at her workplace, the newspaper Sach Di Awaaz, in 2011.
It's a reminder of why businesses need to treat the issue urgently, said the chamber’s executive director.
“Boy, domestic violence sure doesn't know any boundaries — low income, high income or in between,” said Cliff Annable, a longtime businessman who has supported safe houses for battered women through the Rotary Club.
Nancy Drewery, with the Surrey Women's Centre's mobile assault response team, said the abuse and business report is a positive sign that businesses are taking the issue more seriously.
“They got it pretty right when talking about the implications for businesses,” said Drewery. “Definitely having to take time off because of injuries, or you have bruises all over your face, you don't want to go into work that way, or if you're having to go to court or the police station — you see a lot of lost time at work.”