Travers Smith LLP has announced today the introduction of a Domestic Abuse Policy in the firm.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic abuse incidents reported in the UK. Travers Smith recognises that, given the nationwide statistics, it is entirely possible there are employees who have experienced, or are currently experiencing domestic abuse.
The purpose of the Policy is, therefore, to demonstrate the firm's commitment to do all it can to offer the right support to those experiencing domestic abuse, particularly during this current period of remote working. It is also designed to raise the awareness of this crucial issue, so that those who are in a position to support others can draw on the Policy and are trained to do so.
As part of the Policy launch, the firm is conducting a series of online training sessions, delivered by a domestic abuse charity SafeLives, to facilitate a better understanding of how to support others, and to help create an environment which encourages colleagues and peers to reach out. SafeLives has also provided Travers Smith with an expert guidance on the contents of the Policy and will be providing specialised training to line managers and the firm's Mental Health First Aiders. The other key elements of the Policy include the availability of a variety of channels of support within the firm, including an anonymous communication platform WorkinConfidence, paid leave arrangements, and a Domestic Abuse Response Toolkit which signposts external services and charities that specialise in domestic abuse.
The introduction of Travers Smith's Domestic Abuse Policy, closely follows the commemoration of V-day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, which takes place on 14 February every year. Whilst one in four women face domestic abuse, it is important to recognise that this is a challenge that anyone of any gender may face. One in six men also experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, and charities dealing with male victims of domestic abuse have also seen pleas for help increase up to 60% during lockdown periods.
Travers Smith has a long-standing commitment to supporting victims of domestic abuse, for whom it has been acting since 2009. It is a core element of the firm's Pro Bono Programme and one of the key priorities for the firm's Director of Pro Bono, Sam Cottman. At present, the firm runs its own Domestic Violence Advocacy Unit, which represents clients who need to go to Court to seek protective injunctions against their abusers. It has also formed a monitoring group which looks at the impact of the pandemic on victims of domestic abuse, and, alongside five other law firms, staffs a specialist domestic abuse clinic in East London.
Director for Pro Bono, Sam Cottman said: "Domestic abuse is a huge problem in our society. While Travers Smith is already very active in representing survivors of abuse outside of our organisation, we also think it right that we look after our own people in the event that they experience this kind of abuse. I am delighted that the firm has put this policy, and the associated support network, in place and would encourage other firms to do the same. There is no part of society which is left untouched by this issue and so employers have an important opportunity to look after their employees here."
Travers Smith's Senior Partner Kathleen Russ commended: "I am delighted that we have launched an innovative Domestic Abuse Policy in the firm, which builds on our strong portfolio of pro bono work in this field and is strongly aligned with our firm's values. Creating a positive social impact whilst supporting our people is central to who we are as a firm."
HR Director, Moira Slape, who has overseen the rollout of the Policy in the firm, commented: "Our firm has been providing support to victims of domestic violence outside the firm for a number of years. I am very proud that with the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Policy, we are taking an important step to extend this support to our people internally. Raising awareness of this Policy has demonstrated the extent to which our employees and partners remain committed to be there for each other, and their willingness to learn how best to do that. It has been an extremely worthwhile project and feedback from people across the firm has reinforced the value of implementing the Policy."
Director of External Relations for SafeLives, Liz Thompson said: “The increased reporting of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 crisis has heightened awareness of the need for employers to provide consistent and holistic support to staff who might be experiencing abuse. SafeLives are so pleased to have supported Travers Smith in delivering their ongoing domestic abuse initiative. To respond effectively we have to start a conversation that everyone can join. Offering training alongside developing a specific domestic abuse policy are the first steps. It is great to work with Travers Smith’s HR and pro bono teams on this and we encourage other employers to reach out so we can support them to increase awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and help managers feel confident in supporting colleagues who disclose abuse.”