Today marks the start of 16 Days of Activism for NO Violence against Women and Children.
Usually this doesn’t mean anything to me except another excuse for our government to spend our hard earned tax dollars on something that doesn’t require them to actually run the country, but I had an issue with some employees at work this week and I thought it a good time to share my experience.
We have a small company and we don’t have any admin staff so my partner and I do whatever needs to be done. So I find myself being chief cook and bottle Washer with HR playing a huge part of my current duties.
You won’t believe how much of my time is wasted with employees sitting in front of my desk having to be disciplined or reminded that in fact they get paid to come to work and that also requires them to actually do some work. And not to mention the petty dramas that happen between staff members themselves. It is a sitcom all on its own. It reminds me of when my kids were little and Son no 1 would be crying because Son no 2 would be looking out his window on a car trip. I want to pull my hair out on most days.
We made the mistake of employing 3 ladies on our site. Why is this a mistake. Well it shouldn’t be. But in reality we work on a mining site so most of the work revolves around “manly duties”. Now I don’t want to get into a debate about women being equal and able to do a man’s job as I would agree with you on most levels. And yes, I know that 16 Days of Activism promotes exactly this.
But we have noticed a change on site since we employed these ladies. We find it difficult to keep the men away from them and somehow there is always an excuse for them to neglect their duties and be found chatting to the ladies. So my job becomes a little harder and more of my time is spent resolving HR issues rather than actually trying to make money.
So on Wednesday “Beauty” came to my office in tears. She had apparently been smacked across the face by “The Beast”. Now although she was in tears, there were no other signs of an altercation. Her face was not marked or red or swollen. But nevertheless there was an altercation of sorts as otherwise she would not be sitting in front of me in tears.
There were witnesses too of course so now the whole site comes to a standstill as it has become our daily episode of “Days of our Lives”.
Apparently Beauty and the Beast had an argument over something. She told me word for word what the argument was about but quite honestly I switched off after the first 10 minutes of her reciting it. I sat with my head in my hands thinking why me – I have work to do and really don’t have time to deal with this. If they were both doing what they were supposed to be doing and at their posts, they would not have had the argument in the first place. But of course let’s ignore this. It is more important for me to deal with the “abuse” which had happened.
Apparently the Beast had compared her in some way to a whore and she apparently then accused his mother of being a whore and he then in defense of his mother smacked her.
I have no formal HR training. I deal with issues to the best of my diplomatic ability. We have joined an Employers Organisation who handle the more serious issues but it is a mission to get them to come out 20 times a week to deal with petty issues. I am aware that this is a more serious issue and I need to deal with this seriously and by the book. It could in fact mean I have to terminate the Beasts employment contract. It means we have to now have a formal hearing.
I sent Beauty home, hoping that some time would calm her down and tomorrow we could resume the matter and have a proper discussion. She insists she wants to go home via the police station and lay a charge. It is her right to do so, so I tell her she needs to do what she feels is right. I don’t want to question the Beast as yet as quite honestly I feel like I could lose my temper. Why hit a woman, Why hit anyone in fact. Why call each other names. And WHY WERE YOU BOTH NOT WORKING!!!
So on Thursday I had a few meetings which meant I didn’t get to site. The Beast asked to see me first thing yesterday morning. He wanted to call a meeting with Beauty, all Management and the witnesses in order for him to make a public apology to Beauty. I asked him if he was sincere in his apology. He said he was. He is quite a big talker. Always full of excuses and tails so I asked him to only give the apology if he was going to be sincere about it and not back the apology up with excuses or mitigating circumstances. He agreed and seemed truly apologetic.
We called the meeting mid morning and he gave his apology. Beauty was not keen on accepting it. She said she wanted to make an example out of him, especially in light that it was the start of 16 Days of Activism and his behavior was not acceptable. But she agreed to think about it.
Beauty and The Beast were then back in my office an hour later with her agreeing to accept his apology, not for him but because he is a married man with a child and the charges against him could see him at the least unemployed and possibly with a criminal record. The Beast seemed relieved and was very thankful.
Later on I called the Beast back into my office as I still had to deal with him from a company perspective and he couldn’t get away Scott free. I told him I would have to officially discipline him and he agreed to sign a Final Warning with no need for hearings to take place.
I’m not sure if I have conveyed any real message in this blog besides my irritation with having to deal with HR issues on a day to day basis. But violence against women and children is very real and we need to address it. It is far too easy for us to ignore.
I am pretty sure I know at least 2 or 3 women who are being abused, if not physically but emotionally. It is easy to overlook them and whisper to ourselves that they need to do something about it themselves but in reality it isn’t that simple. Especially when children are involved. What women wants to find herself alone, with no home and children to support with some monster lurking in the dark ready to hit out at any convenient time.
Ladies (and Gents) look around you. Identify possible victims and extend a hand of support. How can you help. Even if it’s a shoulder to cry on.