Weeks have now passed since the Sarah Everard case was hitting the headlines daily. Yet the issues it raised around women’s safety should continue to be at the forefront of the UK’s mind and in particular employers’ minds.
With COVID-19 restrictions starting to lift, many employees are returning to workplaces to provide services to the UK public again. But to what extent is the safety of those employees at the forefront of their employers’ priorities currently.
A recent survey of employees (95% of respondents being women) working in the hospitality sector found that 59% had either been attacked or someone had attempted to attack them late at night. 91% surveyed revealed that they did not feel safe coming home from work after a shift.
Whilst these figures relate to participants from the hospitality sector, it is likely the same messages would be received from other sectors re-opening such as retail. An interesting finding from the survey was that only under a third of the participants said that their male colleagues had reached out to talk to them about female safety – a surprising finding given the news and social media coverage the Sarah Everard case received.
So what can employers do to make women feel safer at work or when they are going to or leaving the workplace? A few thoughts:
- Consider placement of any existing CCTV cameras and whether there are any gaps that need covering e.g. entry or exit points or car parks
- Ensure emergency contact numbers are made accessible for employees and display them where possible around the workplace
- Consider arranging transport for employees who work night shifts using an established firm that perform thorough background checks on all their drivers
- Keep a clear record of visitors to the workplace including their name, contact details, the purpose of the visit, their organisation and time and date
- Have executive or senior members of the organisation (on a rota) available to be contacted 24/7 by employees if needed in an emergency
- Consider hosting round table discussions in respect of women’s safety to understand how your current workforce feels about the issue
Fewer than a third of respondents said that male colleagues had reached out to them lately to speak out about issues of female safety, despite the issue being a talking point over the past fortnight since the death of Sarah Everard.