In December, Westpac NZ, in partnership with Shine, New Zealand’s largest non-profit organisation that helps people who’ve suffered from domestic abuse, launched an online education portal that businesses can use to raise awareness of the issue with their employees.
It may at first seem an unusual path for a bank to take, however it fits with Westpac’s commitments to helping the community, as Head of HR Gina Dellabarca explains.
As an employer we could help stand by victims
While Westpac has always had a reputation for proactive strategies across Diversity & Inclusion, David McLean (Westpac NZ CEO) and I talked about ‘what could we do that helps staff but also the wider community’ and we wanted to move towards a space we knew staff across our business would be impacted by – Domestic Violence (DV).
I feel leaders of large organisations can play a pivotal and active role in helping to raise awareness around Domestic Violence and provide an environment that helps support those in need.
Given the statistics, we considered it highly likely that within our workforce we would have some staff impacted by form of DV be it physical or coercive.
We wanted to extend assistance to our people with meaningful support that would help people in need to feel safe.
To raise awareness and know that as an employer we could help stand by victims and support them in times of need.”
It was a one team effort with people across the business showing real commitment and passion to build the DVFree modules and accompanying materials.
These included a domestic violence policy, in-house training, working with Shine on helping our HR team become better equipped to deal with issues when they arrive, and creating “Champions of Change” within the business to support those in need.
We’ve worked in partnership with Shine and leveraged their expertise for our internal e-learning module as well as producing another module located on their website that is available to all NZ public and businesses.
This process allowed us to provide for our own staff, but also give back to the wider community.
Already making a positive impact
Having led both the Retail network and the Commercial Business, I’m aware that this has impacted our staff directly at points in time, and I always thought it we had an opportunity to help provide greater leadership, awareness, education and structure around supporting those staff in need.
We’ve already had very positive feedback from staff and have managed to help some impacted staff.
It’s a real privilege to assist someone in a time of need and I know by extending this free module to all businesses and the wider community, we have the opportunity for others to help their own staff over a time of need.