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Businesses urged to sign zero tolerance pledge on gender-based violence

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 13 December 2015 23:21

Businesses urged to sign zero tolerance pledge on gender-based violence

Bristol companies are being urged to pledge their support to tackling gender based violence, abuse, exploitation and harassment in the workplace.

A website was launched earlier this year where firms can show their support and those behind it want more businesses on board.

The initiative is supported by Bristol City Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner, Avon and Somerset Police, Bristol University, the University of the West of England and other partners.

Penny Gane, chair of Bristol Women’s Commission, said: “Anyone can be a victim of gender-based violence as it is a result of inequality in a relationship. By signing the Bristol Zero Tolerance pledge businesses can show their support and take practical steps to address the issue.

“It’s really simple to get involved – just go online and sign up. We’re asking businesses to commit to at least one additional activity such as engaging in a campaign, running extra training for staff or creating safe spaces for victims of gender-based violence. Employees can also play a big role in spreading the word and raising awareness about the issues and together we can make Bristol a safer place for everyone.”

As well as the website launch, in Bristol the UN awareness day will kick off 16 days of activism and events, including an event on November 26 which will bring women together to discuss what Zero Tolerance means to them.

Stencilled artwork will also be appearing on streets across Bristol to encourage residents to think about the issues and report incidents to Crimestoppers.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Tackling gender-based violence is something I take extremely seriously and it is fundamental to Bristol being a healthy and caring city.

“Everyone can be involved with making our city a safer place, whether that’s encouraging a friend, family member or colleague to speak up, or reporting violence if you are aware of it. I ask the business community get on board and build the momentum behind it.”

Sue Mountstevens, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner said: “In signing the pledge we can all play a part in making Bristol a safer place to live and work. It is only by working together, with partners and local people, that we can truly work towards eradicating all forms of abuse.”

One of the early firms to make the pledge was bus company First West of England.

The company is now developing its action plan further after taking initial steps to ensure employees are aware of the issues and able to access support if they need it.

Managing director James Freeman, said: “The safety of our staff and passengers is of the upmost importance to us, which is why we’ve signed the Bristol Zero Tolerance pledge.

“As part this, we have committed to continue developing our procedures for dealing with instances of abuse in the workplace, ensuring our staff are always well supported. We even have a confidential employee hotline available for anyone experiencing harassment or bullying.

“To protect the people who use our buses we’ve changed the way we train staff to put a bigger focus on customer service and keeping passengers safe. Our drivers know how to spot the signs of someone who is being harassed or bullied – and how to support people if required.

“Our new buses have safety in mind, and the vast majority now have CCTV which can help keep people safer as they travel around the city. Our drivers are out on the road 24 hours a day, seven days a week so they’re well-placed to look out for people who might need support.”

You can sign the pledge here.

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