The partners say that the project, a survey which was launched this month, aims to build evidence demonstrating the benefits to business of providing coordinated and comprehensive responses for employees affected by family and sexual violence.
"There has been a jump in the number of gender-based violence cases globally, with initiatives to prevent violence and protect people cut back, while in jurisdictions where lockdowns have been enforced, it has become more difficult for those in need to access help," the partners said.
The UN Population Fund says that during the pandemic lockdown there has been a 31% decrease in the number of women accessing gender-based violence services.
"There are many types of gender-based violence that impact the workplace, such as client aggression, workplace bullying and sexual harassment and violence experienced by employees at work, home and in their communities," BCFW executive director Evonne Kennedy said.
"When many companies are downsizing, employees may not raise issues of violence with their employer as they may fear an increased risk of retaliation, including being fired," she said, citing the negative impacts of the pandemic.
The IFC and BCFW say that while this research, to be collected over two years, is focused on PNG, the results are expected to inform policy responses to gender-based violence in other countries. It also aims to motivate private-sector interest in responding to family and sexual violence in workplaces and seeks to encourage more businesses in PNG to adopt workplace support for staff affected by family and sexual violence.
The IFC's country manager for the region, Thomas Jacobs, says the IFC knows from its work with companies in the Pacific that they are well aware addressing all forms of violence affecting the workplace.
"Businesses working with IFC have demonstrated that employees who receive training on domestic and sexual violence at work behave more respectfully towards each other and feel safer at work and it is good for companies' bottom lines," Jacobs said.
Other participants either driving or supporting the research of the BCFW and the IFC include Australia, New Zealand, Femili PNG, Oil Search Foundation, Bel isi PNG, Bank South Pacific, Nambawan Super and Steamships Trading.