Former business leader Jo Mason is a domestic violence survivor, but now she’s in the business of helping employers recognise and address signs of domestic violence in their staff.
During the dark days of her abuse, Ms Mason was working at a major construction company.
“Because my workplace didn’t understand or offer any support, I left my job and took a job where I earned about one-third of what I earned previously,” she said.
However, her former partner kept hounding and belittling her.
“I had no confidence left, even though I had a very good career. I had no confidence left in myself for anything.”
Ms Mason separated from her partner but the physical and emotional harassment continued.
“Because I was the director of marketing at a previous business, I earned lots of money and was able to remove myself from my domestic violence position, buy another property, and not have to go into a shelter or anything like that,” she said.
But her life and finances began to unravel.
Taking advice, she involved the police, who referred her to the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service.
She stopped blogging advice about divorce and started blogging about domestic violence, eventually becoming an ambassador for the same domestic violence service that she had turned to.
In 2016, Ms Mason became a member of Brisbane Domestic Violence Service’s Resound Voices of Experience group of mentors.
She has worked to influence government policy and spoken with new police graduates at the Oxley Police Academy.
Now the Brisbane-based executive has formed a company called WorkHaven, which helps businesses in Brisbane identify the early signs of domestic violence.
“We want to equip organisations and workplaces with everything they need to take a stand against domestic violence,” Ms Mason said.
That means educating line managers and chief executives to identify possible causes for concern, such as a lack of attention at work, unexplained absences, and workers receiving very frequent calls from their partner.
“It’s not like someone walking in with a black eye,” she said. “There is a whole range of warning signs.
“It could be someone always looking around agitated when their partner calls, or when they clearly don’t have control of their own finances.
“It is not just domestic violence that we can talk about; there are other topics that are similar that people don’t want to talk about that will impact their work.”
For many sufferers of domestic violence, their workplace is their haven from torment.
Ms Mason believes this is why making businesses more aware of the warning signs can work.
She founded WorkHaven with recruitment agent David Wilson, now a senior partner at Davidson Executive and Boards.
Ms Mason worked for 25 years in senior marketing and communication roles, while Mr Wilson’s career recruiting executives in Australia, the UK and Asia spans two decades.
She says their business is not training people to replace the police or to become instant domestic violence counsellors.
“With my experience, I would say most human relations staff would not know what to do if one of their staff came to them and said, ‘I am in the middle of a domestic or family violence situation’,” she said. “They just would not know what to say or do.
“So we teach them how to have a conversation: what is domestic violence, how is it far broader than physical – it includes coercive control elements – and what are the warning signs?”
The role of businesses expanding their domestic violence policies is frequently raised by Micah Projects, DVConnect and the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service.
WorkHaven will formally launch in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Guests will include Seqwater chief executive Neil Brennan and deputy director-general of the Department of Transport and Main Roads Amanda Yeates.
Source: Thanks smh.com