There is growing evidence that women and children are more likely to be abused during the holiday season when people have more free time, there’s an air of festivity, and the drinks are flowing freely. Responsible individuals, through their own personal awareness and action, can help promote a culture where no woman or child needs to feel threatened simply because they are physically weaker.
Search the internet for the dangers lurking at office Christmas parties, and you’ll get a long list of don’ts. These range from drinking too much, wearing revealing clothing, even just taking off your shoes, to standing on your desk and singing carols.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that our moral standards weaken with increased intake. Couple that with our familiarity to workmates, and we might be tempted to behave in a way we normally would never consider during ordinary working hours.
The same situation applies in our homes and communities over the typical festive holiday season. Without the disciplines and structures of the working environment, we might relax, drink more, and be more ‘in the faces’ of our friends and family. As a result, we might more readily express feelings and opinions and be tempted to do things that we wouldn’t do under more controlled circumstances. And that’s when innocent people tend to get hurt.
Statistically, as this article reveals, domestic violence soars at Christmas time. And in South Africa, sadly, it is directed at vulnerable woman and children.
There’s an important task for the male leader/manager here.
Whilst management leans more towards control, leadership leans more towards direction and inspiration. As quality control becomes more automated, both functions, leadership and management, now can give greater attention to developing a better culture.
Culture is about the way people unconsciously work together. Culture means we share assumptions and practices, often without knowing it. Whilst management’s function would be to ensure the maintenance of the desired culture, leadership’s function would be to inspire and inculcate an optimal culture. And that is one in which everyone is able to make their fullest contribution and receive the rewards of their collective efforts. The outcome of a better culture is ‘engagement’. Its reward is not only improved productivity – it is also a happy workforce.
Now, what if we as managers and leaders were to take that office responsibility back into our homes and communities? What if, in our relaxed social interactions, we could still remain vigilant to subliminal signals of masculine presumption, of subtle bullying, and learn how to gently intervene? What if we were to notice the repressed signals of fear, hurt and concern in our own families and communities, and with compassion inquire what is behind those signs?
What if we were to become keenly self-conscious of our personal responses to those ribald jokes that are really disrespectful of women, or to the subtle pressures to assert so-called masculine rights? Ultimately it’s about de-objectifying the female gender, our sisters and mothers and daughters, and encouraging them to assert the same right to free choices as we claim for ourselves.
Click here for information on how to protect those who may be in need.
The mixture of frivolity, familiarity, and alcohol at year-end parties can lead to vulnerable women being abused in various ways. Your role as a leader or manager is to remain vigilant.
As a leader who cultivates respect in the workplace, you can also show this responsibility in your own family and community – especially during party time when abuse tends to increase.
Abuse is enabled by a culture that denies the manipulation of women and children. By instilling a respectful work culture, leadership can help filter empowerment to the home and community.