Each year, the international V-Day organization chooses a Spotlight. V-Day “spotlights” a certain group of women who are facing violence, “with the goal of raising awareness and funds to put a worldwide media spotlight on this area and to aid groups on the ground who are addressing it.” Previous Spotlight Campaigns featured Afghan Women (2002); Missing and Murdered Women in Juarez, Mexico (2004); and the Women and Girls of Haiti (2011 and 2012). V-Day’s 2017 Spotlight is Violence Against Women in the Workplace.
Disproportionate Effect on Women
Workplace violence disproportionately affects women, who are often subject to sexual harassment on the job. The subject recently made national news when former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against FOX CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes, accusing him of sexual harassment. Subsequently, additional women came forward with similar accusations against Ailes. 21st Century Fox allowed Ailes to resign – and gave him $40 million in an exit agreement. 21st Century Fox later settled with Carlson for $20 million – an amount that was paid by the company, not by Ailes.
Occurrence Across All Industries
Workplace violence occurs across all industries, and is not always perpetrated by an employee’s boss or coworker. It can also come from clients or customers – or even from all of the above groups. In the restaurant industry, nearly 80% of women report experiencing sexual harassment from co-workers. Additionally, nearly 80% of women in that industry report experiencing sexual harassment from customers.
Nurses and other healthcare workers are exposed to extremely high rates of workplace violence, many times due to combative patients they are trying to assist. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 52% of workplace violence incidents in 2014 occurred against workers in the healthcare and social assistance industry. Worse, the rates have actually been increasing – in private industry hospitals, workplace violence rates increased 110 percent between 2005 and 2014.
Workplace violence has become such a problem in the healthcare industry that last month, National Nurses United testified in Washington, DC to urge Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pass regulations to prevent workplace violence in healthcare settings.
Workplace Violence Is Deadly
Workplace violence is a widespread – and deadly – problem. According to BLS, workplace violence – including assaults and suicides – accounted for 15 percent of all work-related fatal occupational injuries in the United States in 2015.
BLS also notes the following statistics:
- Homicide is the second-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries for women, after traffic accidents.
- Thirty-one percent of women who die at work are killed as a result of an assault or violent act.
- The most frequent type of assailant in work-related homicides involving women was a relative or domestic partner.
How Can You Help?
To prevent workplace violence, it is important that a company has a policy in place that prevents violence and harassment. In addition, companies should have a clearly-communicated process for making and resolving complaints. Have policies in place for what to do in case of an intruder – many workplace violence incidents occur as part of attempted or successful robberies. As an employee, “if you see something, say something.”
Ten percent of all proceeds from this year’s benefit productions of “The Vagina Monologues” will go to the V-Day Spotlight Campaign, to be used to help end violence against women in the workplace. (The other 90% will go to a local organization – in V-Day Raleigh’s case, InterAct.) Purchase your tickets today for the Raleigh performances, and know that your money will being going to two important causes to help end violence against women and girls.