The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is Each for Equal – An Equal World is an Enabled World.

The global organisers of IWD speak of Collective Individualism to achieve that goal:

“We are all parts of a whole. Our individual actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets can have an impact on our larger society.

Collectively, we can make change happen. Collectively, we can each help to create a gender-equal world.”

We’ve taken some time to mull over what those words mean to us personally and as a team at Morrissey Law + Advisory, and we can’t get past the first and most basic hurdle – safety from violence, harassment and abusive control.

Australian women carry the burden of the following reality:

  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.1
  • 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.2
  • 1 in 5 Australian women have experienced sexual violence.2
  • 1 in 4 Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner.2
  • 1 in 6 Australian women have experienced violence by a current or former partner.2
  • Australian women are almost four times more likely than men to be hospitalised after being assaulted by their spouse or partner.3
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of mothers who had children in their care when they experienced violence from their previous partner said their children had seen or heard the violence.2
  • Young women (18 – 24 years), women with disabilities and indigenous women are significantly more likely to experience violence.2, 4
  • In the largest-ever global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession, 47% of Australian female respondents reported being sexually harassed in the workplace.5
  • In a survey of Australian university students, women were twice as likely as men to be sexually harassed and three times as likely as men to be sexually assaulted at university.6

Each study referenced above notes that those statistics are affected by significant levels of underreporting by victims of violence and harassment. It is terrifying that the real numbers are much higher.

Responsibility for those crimes lies 100% with the perpetrators.
Responsibility for creating change lies with us all.

Safety from violence is an issue that has affected us as a team and individually already in 2020.

What we learnt from that experience is that the face of violence against women and children can be the face at the desk next to us.

The fact that Australian women in statistically significant numbers are unable to effectively communicate their violent reality and access help before they are murdered, assaulted or harassed is unacceptable. It could not be further from an Equal or Enabled World.

Our Commitment:

We make the following commitment to our team, our construction industry and our legal fraternity:

  • We do not employ or work with perpetrators of violence against women and children, and we enforce a zero-tolerance policy of violence or harassment in our workplace.
  • Our team is first and foremost, an interconnected group of awesome humans that share the same carpet and cloud space for a large part of our waking day. Any member of our team that is affected by violence and harassment in their lives will receive our full and confidential support, in any and every way that we can offer.
  • We are a Feminist business. We say this as it associates us with a set of philosophical and political beliefs that are critical to our workplace and to us as individuals. Those beliefs are grounded in respect, safety and equality for women.
  • We have established and will continue to improve on structured systems to address gender equality and diversity in our workplace, including:
  • Equal pay
  • Active recruitment of gender diverse team members
  • Zero tolerance of discrimination against and amongst team members
  • Researched-based processes to correct unconscious bias in interviewing, salary and promotion reviews, supervision and operational decision-making
  • Flexible work hours and remote working at an individual and team level
  • Funded opportunities for women to increase professional, business, leadership and personal skills at every level of the business

On this International Women’s Day 2020, we commit to taking a more active role in our industry, legal fraternity and community to support women and children escaping violence.

 


[1] Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) 2017
[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017 Personal Safety, Australia, 2016, ABS cat. no. 4906.0. Canberra: ABS
[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018 Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no FDV 2. Canberra: AIHW.
[4] Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (SCRGSP) 2016
[5] https://www.ibanet.org/bullying-and-sexual-harassment.aspx
[6] Change The Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities (2017)

Disclaimer: This publication by Morrissey Law & Advisory is for general information and commentary only and should not be considered or relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in relation to any matters or transactions that may arise in relation with communication.