6 minute read

Why we can't be bystanders

Making a commitment to 'call it out', not be a bystander and eliminate bias and discrimination, fosters safe spaces for our people, in the workplace and at home.

Sophie Halse
Sophie Halse
06 July 2018

It’s been four months since AGL introduced its family and domestic violence training called ‘Safe Space’ available to all our people. More than 1,200 of our leaders and team members across all professions and major locations have attended so far.

The training, running until later this year, helps us recognise the signs of family and domestic violence and support our colleagues who may be victims of violence and abuse. It also equips us to recognise unhealthy behaviours in others, and, potentially too, in ourselves, providing the tools to seek help and break the cycle of violence.

In 2015 our family and domestic violence support policy helped us develop special support for customers experiencing violence at home, including measures to help them maintain their privacy.

So why is AGL focused on this?

It’s horrifying but true to say that in Australia one woman every week is murdered by a current or former partner.

International evidence shows that some of the main drivers of violence against women include disrespect, lack of support for gender equality and rigid or stereotypical gender roles1.

It’s why the Victorian State Government Respect Women: Call It Out ad campaign is so important in encouraging men to intervene and call out sexism and gender inequality in those familiar social settings - at the pub, at the BBQ or in the workplace.

Recently Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change hosted a roundtable to talk about resistance and backlash that often happens when organisations embark on major cultural change required to achieve gender equality. Our MD, CEO and Male Champion of Change, Andy Vesey, made the point at the roundtable that:

Fostering a culture of inclusive of all – another core AGL value – sets a tone of respect and trust by holding us and our behaviours to account, and by helping to reinforce daily practices that promote gender equality. It’s a contributing factor to AGL’s exceeding the 40% target for women in the senior leadership pipeline. We know however, there’s still more we can do and learn.

As a leader in a company with 3.6 million customers and 3,600 employees, the impact my behaviour and my daily practice – as well as yours - supports a shared goal of respect and equality for every Australian. Making a commitment to call it out, not be a bystander and eliminate gender bias and discrimination, fosters safe spaces for people in the workplace and at home. It starts with me, it starts with all of us.

Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety and VicHealth (2015) Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, Our Watch, Melbourne, Australia