How can business most effectively address gender-based violence in the workplace, their value chains and the communities in which they operate?

This live written discussion with a panel of experts to explored how business can most effectively address gender-based violence in the workplace, their value chains and communities.

LIVE Panel

Thursday 23 November, 10am to 11am EST / 3pm to 4 pm GMT


Businesses can effectively address gender-based violence by implementing policies and procedures to prevent and respond to incidents, providing training and education to employees on gender equality and violence prevention, and engaging with local organizations and stakeholders to address gender-based violence in their communities and value chains. Additionally, companies can demonstrate their commitment to ending gender-based violence by publicly speaking out against it, promoting gender equality, and incorporating it into their sustainability and corporate social responsibility initiatives. By taking a comprehensive approach, businesses can create safer, more inclusive, and more equitable workplaces and communities.

This discussion with a panel of experts to explored these issues and the implications for business action.


  • Suzi Chinnery, Head, Capability and Impact, CARE Australia
  • Abir Chowdhury, Sr. Manager - Development & Fundraising, Ashoka University
  • Natalie Deacon, Director Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Avon International
  • Chioma Izuwah, Business Fights Poverty Community Member
  • Elizabeth Waweru, Research and Policy Associate, The Youth Cafe
  • Laura Macias, Global Lead, RISE Women’s Advancement & Leadership, BSR
  • Melissa Morbeck, Global Director of Partnerships, NO MORE
  • Haron Muturi, Wake and Shine SHG, Junior Leader, Tharaka Nithi
  • Sabine Garbarino, Gender, Inclusion & Diversity, Expert
  • Sherif Muçalla, Researcher
  • Craig Wilkinson, Founder & CEO, Father a Nation

Moderator: Business Fights Poverty


  1. How can businesses best address the issue of gender-based violence in the workplace and communities?
  2. What are the best examples of businesses taking action on gender-based violence?
  3. How can we better work together to make more of a positive impact on gender-based violence?


This is a text-based discussion which remains open, so please do continue to share your insights.

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Most of challenges in working space is the culture that has been there for some time and is not favoring good ethics of gender equality based as well dressing them by turning the work place to be decent , such as professional development, work life balance to mention a few focusing on long term achievements can be area that dresses the gender -based violence no matter the size of the organisation when such soft skills are acquired , are shared in communities even starting from home which can save many lives as well save the business from Fred Tumwesigye

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Hi Everyone, I am Katie, Director of Thought Leadership for Business Fights Poverty.

We are really looking forward to the written discussion this week. The live part of the contribution will take place on Thursday (as advertised) but you can login and contribute at any time. Please do start by introducing yourself here, simply hit ‘reply’.

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Hi everyone! I’m Sabine Garbarino, an independent Gender, Inclusion & Diversity consultant and one of the contributors to Thursday’s session. Really looking forward to it!

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Hello! I’m Suzi Chinnery, Head of Capability and Impact with CARE Australia, leading our work on gender equality and inclusion, including workplace based sexual harassment, working with individual organisations as well as at the supply chain level in the garment industry across SE Asia. We have also worked with other supply chains to support industry level resources to reduce sexual and gender based violence in supply chains. With 30% of employees, mostly women, (and upwards to 70% of employees in some industries) experiencing some form of sexual harassment in the workplace its a critical issue to be talking about.


Looking forward to moderating this session later today. We also have a new podcast up looking at the impact of climate change on GBV. Something that will also be interesting to explore later. Stream episode Climate change and poverty increases gender based violence with Practical Action by Business Fights Poverty podcast | Listen online for free on SoundCloud


Really looking forward to it too!

Hi all. I’m Craig Wilkinson, founder of the non-profit organization Father A Nation (FAN) based in South Africa. I’ve written books on fatherhood and developed courses on gender-based violence and positive masculinity. FAN works with boys and men in communities, schools, organizations, colleges to teach, transform, heal and inspire them to be excellent fathers, mentors, men and role models.

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Hi everyone! I’m Laura Macias, Global Lead Women’s Advancement & Leadership at RISE (Reimagining the Industry to Support Equality).

RISE is an initiative to support collaborative industry action at scale to advance gender equality in global garment, footwear and home textiles supply chains. RISE brings together the four largest women’s empowerment programs in the apparel industry—from BSR’s HERproject, Gap Inc. P.A.C.E, CARE International and Better Work from the ILO.

HELLO everyone and welcome - here is the first question for today,

  1. How can businesses best address the issue of gender-based violence in the workplace and communities?
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Because every workplace is a microcosm of society businesses have a great opportunity and a duty to influence society through their staff and customers.

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Putting in place the right policies and procedures which combat gender-based violence AND creating the right corporate culture AND recruiting and training the right people responsible for implementing the policies.

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I think we still often need to make the case for why business needs to address GBV in the workplace and communities. Business case work on the why and also that illustrates the benefits of tackling these issues remains important. (IFC have done some interesting work on the latter)

In our toolkit that we did on this back in 2019 with Anglo America, IFC, Primark and CARE, we outlined some of the reasons to act…… e.g. The costs of GBV are high, with estimates totalling $1.5 trillion, the equivalent of 2% of global GDP. One study in Peru found that violence costs companies $6.7 billion per year in lost productivity and associated organisational costs.

Higher rates of turnover and absenteeism.

In Papua New Guinea, IFC and partners estimated that staff lose 11 workdays per year to GBV, including two days to presenteeism, five to absenteeism and four to assisting other GBV survivors. Staff time alone cost companies between 3% and 9% of payroll.

Lower productivity and performance. In the US women who have suffered from domestic violence work 10% fewer workdays per year than women who have not been subject to such violence.

Negative impact on workplace relations , and stress related illness. This includes a tendency to ‘presenteeism’ when a worker is physically present but not able to concentrate leading to increased chances of mistakes and accidents. In Europe stress contributes to around half of all lost working days.

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Totally agree. The challenge is that businesses do not always realise how widespread gender-based violence is. Every time I speak with business (or colleagues working with the private sector) about prevalence the numbers come as a big surprise…

The best way to address gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in the workplace (and overall gender inequality which is the root cause of women being the main subjects of violence and harassment in the world of work, in communities, and households) is to approach the issue from a system thinking and comprehensive perspective.

At RISE, we work specifically in global apparel supply chains, where imbalances of power are present at every level of this very big system contributing directly or indirectly to increased cases of GBVH. Our approach contemplates these various levels of the system to guarantee a holistic and robust approach towards reverting power imbalances and achieving more gender-equal workplaces free of violence and harassment. Working on three levels is key to this: 1. social norms, 2. industry transformation and 3. policy.


To mark 16 Days of activism we at Avon have released this ‘Reverse Makeup Tutorial’ video to illustrate coercive control by reimagining a typical makeup tutorial. We’ve been raising awareness for over 15 years and signposting the network of support services that Avon helps to fund for over 15 years. But this is the first time we’ve done anything quite so bold. I’d be very interested to hear peoples’ feedback. The film is rooted in insights we heard from survivors and our charity partners about coercive control in relation to a partner’s appearance. A fifth of women say they have had a partner influence whether or not they wear makeup, while the same number say their partner controls whether or not they wear makeup. Of the women who said a partner controls how much makeup they wear, the highest incidence was amongst those aged 25-34 (26%).


Care conducted a review of evidence on what works to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and the evidence is really clear about what action needs to be taken. And those actions are really achievable.

Businesses should be looking at their internal culture, leadership and policies. This means taking a visible and vocal stand on gender equality in supporting it as well as on preventing gender-based violence in all its forms.

Businesses must show their staff that it’s safe to raise issues of gender inequality / discrimination and gender based violence and that when those issues are raised they will be taken seriously.

Leadership driving this is important. Staff need to know that their leaders are genuine. There can be a risk that its seen as paying lip service to this issue because of the potential legal or reputational risks – both of which are significant.

Leaders need to understand their critical role in promoting gender equality in the workplace – diverse leadership, equal salary, representation in the workplace – as well as preventing violence. This includes behaviours that might suggest toxic stereotypes for men are okay, as well as addressing stereotypes around what women should or shouldn’t be in the workplace.

Leaders need to promote the positive sides of gender equality as well as prevent its negative impacts such as gender-based violence.

Training for staff is important but its not enough. All businesses need to have a culture of being clear about accepted behaviours and stepping in when behaviours are not acceptable. ‘Small’ jokes can lead to bigger issues and risks for violence. Its important to show that its taken seriously at all levels – that’s where understanding social norms is really important.

Its really important to take a survivor focused lens in dealing with gender based violence. The wishes and wellbeing of the victim/survivor need to be front and centre.

When dealing with gender based violence - the severity of the issue might make it a criminal matter, but even then businesses can support their employees in a way that retains survivor focused lens – access to counselling and health services, paid leave to deal with the issue, re-assigning the person to another, safer position within the company.

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While hard to quantify reputation is a massive thing for many businesses. And it does not just affect large businesses, it’s an also issue for SMEs.
As part of a then DFID-funded programme in Sierra Leone we’ve worked with Lion Mountain, a small rice producer in Sierra Leone, and learn that intimate partner violence risked damaging this small local businesses reputation in the community. Which worried them more than staff time and absenteeism.

Welcome Natalie, thanks for joining us and sharing what Avon are doing.

Absolutely crucial to have the commitment, buy-in and modelling of top leadership. Too many programmes skip the C suite and focus on middle to lower levels of management. It must start at the top and be modelled from the top.

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