Asia Foundation Launches Report on Domestic Violence and Impact on Workplace in China

Beijing, December 1, 2017 — The Asia Foundation released a new research report, Impact of Domestic Violence on the Workplace in China, at a launch event in Beijing. The timing of the report coincides with “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” the global campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The research release event was hosted by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beijing, and organized in partnership with the Foundation and SynTao Co. Ltd, a Chinese corporate social responsibility firm. More than 50 representatives from international organizations, local civil society organizations, embassies, industry and business associations, and media attended the event.

Bas Pulles, deputy ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beijing, and David D. Arnold, president of The Asia Foundation, gave opening remarks. Deputy Ambassador Pulles reiterated Netherland’s commitment to eliminating all forms of violence, including gender-based violence. David Arnold emphasized the central role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Foundation’s work across Asia.

Hao Yang, program officer of The Asia Foundation, discussed the new report’s findings and recommendations, including supporting advocacy and legislation to address gender-based violence, building a more gender-friendly work place, and strengthening partnerships with the private sector.

Program Officer Hao Yang presents findings from the study.

In 2016, after 20 years of advocacy, China passed the Anti-Domestic Violence Law. Employers were identified as key stakeholders in addressing domestic violence (DV) in China’s Anti-DV Law. However, there is limited data on how DV affects the workplace in China or how employers understand their responsibilities. To fill this gap, The Asia Foundation and SynTao initiated a one-year research project in 2016, which surveyed 706 employees and 93 employers and conducted in-depth, structured interviews with eight DV survivors and seven employers in diverse industries.

The research uncovered how domestic violence continues beyond the private sphere and into the victim’s workplace and work scenarios, and its negative impact extends from the victim’s personal life and professional experiences to the victim’s co-workers and employer, which altogether lead to additional costs to businesses. Key findings of the study include:

  • 13.3% of respondents have experienced DV in the past 12 months, and nearly half of these survivors have experienced DV in the workplace. In addition, 56.4% have witnessed DV suffered by acquaintances, and 65.8% of these witnesses have seen the victims continue to be abused by their partners in the workplace;
  • Self-identified victims of DV reported experiencing many physical and emotional effects, which have negative impacts on employee safety and productivity in the workplace, affecting survivors as well as their coworkers;
  • Employers pay extensive DV-related costs, due to reduced productivity, missed work hours or work days, and staff turnover that result from DV;
  • Employers have a limited understanding of the expectations of their employees or requirements under the DV Law to implement workplace policies that support survivors or discipline abusers;
  • While the majority of employees reported that their employers should intervene in instances of DV, and more than half of survivors surveyed did disclose their experiences of DV to coworkers and/or supervisors, however, general employee willingness to seek help from employers remains low. This is partly due to limited knowledge of the willingness or ability of their employers to intervene, the absence of resources for interventions, and the possible effects of intervention, in addition to concerns about privacy, discrimination, and losing face or being ridiculed;
  • Employers have concerns about engaging in anti-DV efforts due to the lack of clarity about their legal responsibilities, difficulty in measuring the benefit of their investment in DV interventions, and challenges to balancing employee privacy and protection needs with the demand for intervention.

The presentation of the research findings also included a panel discussion from five experts on the impact of international standards of gender equality in the workplace and their experiences in promoting a gender-friendly working environment in China.

The research project will anchor The Asia Foundation and SynTao’s combined efforts to engage diverse stakeholders, particularly the private sector, in combating gender-based violence. Based on the research findings, the Foundation is developing strategies and recommendations to support pilot workplace actions and generate employer-driven efforts against DV in China.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

Read more about the Foundation’s work in China.

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Related locations: China
Related programs: Economic Opportunity, Empower Women
Related topics: Domestic Violence

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Amy Ovalle, Vice President, Global Communications
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415-743-3318