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Domestic violence: a bottom-line issue; The annual price tag could be as much as $5 billion.

There's no question that the cost of domestic violence is devastating to individuals and families. What you may not realize is that domestic violence also affects American businesses, costing them as much as $5 billion annually in medical expenditures, employee turnover and lost productivity.

Contrary to popular misconception, domestic violence is a business issue. It can cause far-reaching implications for your company's bottom line and your employees' well being. Domestic violence could be plaguing anyone in your organization. It crosses all racial, cultural, socio-economic and geographic boundaries.

If you're still not convinced that your business could be impacted by this epidemic, consider that one in three women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report. She could be your top sales performer, your No. 1 go-to person for problem solving or your efficient, dependable executive assistant.

Another misconception about domestic violence is that only women fall victim to this hateful crime. The same Department of Justice report shows that approximately 3 to 5 percent of all violence against males is actually incidents of domestic abuse.

You may be thinking: How does someone's personal relationship become my concern in the workplace? Domestic violence becomes your concern because it doesn't stay home when its victims go to work. On the contrary, homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace, and domestic homicide accounts for nearly one in five of these cases, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. If a perpetrator comes to your workplace, all employees are at risk.

Even if the abuser doesn't physically show up at your premises, the effects of abuse still make their way into the office. According to the American Institute on Domestic Violence, 96 percent of victims experience problems at work due to abuse they suffer. Seventy-four percent of domestic violence victims are harassed by their abuser while they are at work.

There's also a toll on your other employees--the co-workers who try to cover up for the employee who's continuously late, or the colleagues who handle her work or those who overhear the threatening or harassing calls.

Businesses can, and should, make a difference. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, consider what you can do:

* Ask your Human Resources department to initiate an open-door policy for employees to come forward if they are being abused or if they are concerned about a co-worker.

* Implement an employee Code of Business Conduct--if one is not already established--that includes your company's stance on domestic violence.

* Incorporate domestic violence awareness training for your managers.

* Contact your local domestic violence shelter to see what your company can do to support domestic violence awareness programs.

Studies show that domestic violence worsens over time if the issue is not addressed. Businesses across the Detroit Region need to become involved. Your company can make a difference.

Greg Haller is president of the Michigan/Indiana/Kentucky Region of Verizon Wireless, a Gold-level member of the Detroit Regional Chamber. Through its HopeLine[R] program, the company collects no-longer-used wireless equipment to be refurbished and sold. The proceeds are used to purchase newer wireless phones for domestic violence victims and to support domestic violence shelters and organizations. Verizon Wireless also underwrites the "None Of Our Business" domestic violence awareness training program for businesses.

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Title Annotation:Workforce CENTRAL
Author:Haller, Greg
Publication:Detroiter
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:556
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