Nobody knows more about the impact of partner violence on the workplace - and how businesses should address it.
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Best Practices
Fifth & Pacific Company (formerly Liz Claiborne Inc.)
Liz Claiborne's Women's Work® program was launched in 1991 as a way to give something of value back to the people who have made the company a success over the years. The program began as a series of community-based, public art projects designed to heighten awareness of, and encourage positive social change on, issues of particular concern to women and their families. The program's awareness and education campaign has included billboards, TV and radio announcements, posters, brochures, campus workshops and partnerships with local retailers and community groups.

The goal of the Women's Work program is to help create a society intolerant of abuse. By partnering with various experts on intimate partner violence, the campaign reaches the public with its anti-abuse message through television and radio public service announcements (PSAs), a series of educational handbooks, fundraising efforts, and more, all of which results in maximum reach within the company and among the public at large. Each year, the program adopts a new position that focuses on a particular constituency, with past groups including corporate executives, college students, men, women, bystanders, parents and teenagers.

In 2004, Liz Claiborne began featuring information about their commitment to the prevention of domestic violence on their garment hangtags, where they provide the address for their Love Is Not Abuse web site and the toll-free phone number of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). So now -- not only will you find the size -- you'll find something that could save your life, or the life of someone you care about!

In the "Love Is Not Abuse" section of their web site, the company offers many resources such as fundraising opportunities (awareness items like necklaces and T-shirts are for sale, and profits from the sale of these items are donated to national domestic violence organizations). The site offers an excellent array of awareness building materials free of charge. The handbooks can be downloaded directly from the site. For further details, visit: www.lizclaiborne.com/lizinc/lizworks/women.

Through its Internal Relationship Violence Awareness Program, Liz Claiborne Inc. works to create an environment of support within the company and to educate, inform and assist those employees with domestic violence issues and concerns. Liz Claiborne Inc. consults with national and local nonprofit partners in establishing internal policies and procedures regarding domestic violence and has offered relationship violence awareness and assistance policy and protocol training programs to its employees in the human resources, security and legal departments. A comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides trained counselors 24 hours per day via an 800-number who handle domestic violence cases by providing counseling and referrals.

As a company, they do what they can to accommodate employees victimized by domestic violence. This includes allowing time off so that employees can seek safety and protection, attend court appearances, arrange for new housing or take care of other matters. They also arrange for flexible hours, short-term paid leaves of absence and extended leaves without pay.

In 2005, Liz Claiborne Inc. created two NEW domestic violence workplace materials—a trifold Recognize, Respond, and Refer* brochure for addressing domestic violence at the workplace, and an DV Aware card. Both the brochure and card are designed to reach out to employees who many not readily see themselves as potential victims of intimate partner violence. They are excellent materials and the quotes concerning survivors are especially enlightening -- for example, this one from the awareness card: "A strong, self-sufficient survivor of many dangerous situations as a police officer, she never thought of herself as a victim of domestic violence until she was pushed down the stairs and was so badly injured that she ended up in the hospital." (*Title adapted from the Colorado Bar Association's Make It Your Business Program)

Liz Claiborne is a funder (along with CAEPV member Altria Group, Inc.) of Safe@Work Coalition. Safe@Work is a coalition of New York area private employers (including Altria Group, Inc., Liz Claiborne and American Express), trade unions, domestic violence advocacy groups, and government organizations brought together in 2000 to demystify domestic violence for employers and unions and to provide guidance on creating an environment where this historically "private" problem can be openly and effectively addressed. It is a wonderful example of employers addressing domestic violence together on a local/regional basis. (View the Safe@Work Coalition web site at http://www.safeatworkcoalition.org).

During October, 2003 Liz Claiborne sponsored the No More Tour, along with Marie Claire Magazine. The multi-city tour is designed to raise awareness about violence against women.

The tour featured events at local universities, including a film festival showcasing the winning films from the Stop the Violence short film contest. The tour has stops in Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; and Washington, DC.

In 2003, Liz Claiborne was once again named one of the top three in the National Association of Female Executives' Top 30 Companies for Executive Women.
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