The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UK development finance institution CDC Group have issued a document providing practical guidance for the private sector on efforts to address gender-based violence and harassment.
The EBRD said that this form of violence and harassment is a systemic and serious global issue that affects individuals, especially women and girls, in their workplaces, communities and homes.
Worldwide, an estimated one in three women have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence, the EBRD said.
The new guidance, entitled “Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment – Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector,” responds to the need raised by companies and investors for practical tools on best practices to prevent and respond to the risk of violence and harassment, according to the EBRD.
In addition, gendered violence and harassment, in particular domestic violence, increase during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic, further compounding the adverse impacts on employees’ wellbeing, health and safety, and productivity, the bank said.
“The United Nations Population Fund impact assessments estimate that an additional 31 million cases of gender-based violence were perpetrated in the first six months alone of the coronavirus pandemic,” said director of environmental, social and governance advice and solutions at IFC, Mary Porter Peschka, in the publication.
For companies and investors, violence and harassment can pose a range of risks, including litigation, loss of profits and reputational damage.
Addressing the risks can have many business benefits, including improved productivity and performance, reduced potential for accidents, improved access to skills and talent, and better stakeholder relations, according to the EBRD.
The three institutions have also developed three sector-level briefs covering the specific risks and benefits of addressing the problem in public transport, manufacturing and construction.