Lihirian landowner company Anitua has once again put its money where its mouth is by supporting the Lihir Island Haus Krai (gender violence protest event) for the third consecutive year.
Since the National Haus Krai in 2013, Anitua has committed resources to address gender violence at work and in the community, primarily through its Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) program.
The question to be asked is why? Why should any PNG business spend money making workplaces safer for women as well as more supportive of female employees? who are victims of gender violence?
Executive Director of Anitua, Colin Vale, has worked in Papua New Guinea for nearly 30 years and for the majority of these years for catering and camp management companies such as Anitua subsidiary NCS with large numbers of female employees.
“You get to the point where you just can’t take it any more – the violence I mean. Over the years, I have tried to help many, many female employees who have been beaten by their husbands.
However, it’s only been in the last couple of years when I realised that Anitua could actually assist in a more systematic and structured fashion – hence our EVAW program.
We introduced our program for humanitarian and moral reasons as it is simply the right thing to do to help your employees when they’ve been beaten and abused.
However, to our surprise, we quickly started to reap some real business benefits from the stance we’ve taken against gender violence.”
The business benefits Vale refers to are substantial media coverage in industry publications, newspapers, and television as well as via social media, recognition and commendation by the Australian Government and the World Bank, increased brand recognition, board invitations and appointments, improved workplace safety, a reputation as an ‘employer of choice’, and improved staff morale.
Although Anitua is yet to assess whether its actual productivity has improved due to its efforts to make its workplaces safer for female staff, recent preliminary results of a joint research project between Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the UK’s Overseas Development Institute which looked specifically at the business cost of gender violence in PNG indicate that it has.
As Leonora Morgan, Executive Director of the Business Coalition for Women (BCFW) points out:
“violence against women can decrease their productivity in the workplace. Not only is this the case for victims but also for other staff who are concerned for them, as well as for perpetrators. The Coalition recognises this as a considerable challenge for PNG businesses and has developed a number of resources to help businesses make their workplaces safer, support staff and therefore reduce the negative impact violence has on the workplace and the balance sheet.”
Anitua is a foundation member of the BCFW, holds two positions on its Board and its Elimination of Violence Against Women program director Dr Linda Van Leeuwen is chair of its Addressing Violence Working Group.
Van Leeuwen says that the contribution Anitua makes to the PNG business community via the BCFW is no more important than supporting community events such as the Lihir Island Haus Krai.
“Lihir is Anitua’s birthplace and Lihirian women helped Anitua become the success it is today. Anitua will always look after the women of Lihir and supporting the Haus Krai and lobbying for gender violence services on Lihir is just one way we can do this.”
Source: Anitua Corporate Services