Recognising that New Zealand has some of the highest family violence rates in the world, The Warehouse Group (TWG) has put in place an initiative aimed at empowering team members affected by this issue to get the support they need and stay in employment.
The Family Violence, It’s Not OK initiative was introduced in late 2015 to break down barriers that could prevent staff at TWG bringing their whole selves to work by providing channels and knowledge to address a serious and prevalent social issue that affects many New Zealanders.
TWG has grown from a single store founded by Sir Stephen Tindall 35 years ago, to being the largest general merchandise retailer in New Zealand. TWG employs more than 12,000 people across the country, and has more than 240 retail stores, as well as nationwide distribution networks.
Chief People Officer Anna Campbell says that TWG’s staff is broadly representative of the New Zealand population. “Research shows that women are generally more impacted by family violence and given women represent 60 per cent of TWG’s workforce, we want to tackle the barrier family violence may cause for this group.”
As part of the initiative, TWG offers up to 10 days’ paid leave to family violence victims that can be used at to attend court, meet with Women’s Refuge or relocate if necessary. It also provides unpaid leave for team members to support family violence victims and unpaid leave to people using violence who want to stop.
The initiative was developed in partnership with Women’s Refuge and White Ribbon New Zealand. “We recognised we’re not experts so it was important to engage professionals to help develop a meaningful initiative,” Anna says.
A training programme raising awareness around the signs of family violence and covering how to start a conversation with and support a team member who may be experiencing family violence was rolled out to people leaders.