Gender-based violence and harassment affects one in three women globally and negatively impacts people experiencing violence, their families, and communities and affects the business bottom line. It has financial consequences for individuals and businesses as it can increase health and safety risks, reduce employee engagement and productivity, increase absenteeism and turnover of employees, and damage public image and social license to operate.

Women and children are disproportionally affected by gender-based violence and harassment, however, men can also be affected. Risks of gender-based violence are higher for people who don’t conform to prescribed gender norms. Factors other than gender such as race, income, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or disability may also increase the risk of experiencing violence.

Private sector responses to address gender-based violence and harassment are a crucial part of a whole of community response to reduce violence and support those affected by violence.

IFC’s Respectful Workplaces Program seeks to enhance business value by addressing gender-based violence and harassment including customer and client aggression, workplace bullying and sexual harassment, domestic and sexual violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse connected to the workplace. The Respectful Workplaces program supports the private sector in emerging markets to create safe and resilient workplaces through demonstrating the business case for action, providing businesses with advisory services, resources and tools to help them address the issue.

  • Workplace responses to Family and Sexual Violence in PNG: Measuring the Business Case | 2021

    IFC, in partnership with the Business Coalition for Women, carried out a two-year research project with three major companies in Papua New Guinea. 

    The research indicates that there is a correlation between the gender balance of the workforce, the level of support that companies provide to respond to family and sexual violence, and positive outcomes. This includes less acceptance of family and sexual violence, higher reporting of family and sexual violence, fewer days lost to the impacts of family and sexual violence, and more helpful responses.

  • The Business Case for Workplace Responses to Domestic and Sexual Violence in Fiji | 2019

    This study, which identifies the impacts of domestic and sexual violence on Fijian employees and employers, was conducted to inform the development of tailored solutions for the business community in Fiji. The study is part of an ongoing IFC initiative that develops workplace responses to domestic and sexual violence in the Pacific, supports employees experiencing violence and reduces impacts on the workplace.

  • The Impact of Domestic and Sexual Violence on the Workplace in Solomon Islands | 2019

    This study was conducted in collaboration with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of the Waka Mere Commitment to Action. Fifteen of Solomon Islands’ largest companies participated in Waka Mere, or “She Works” in Pijin, which aimed to advance gender equality in the country’s private sector by promoting women in leadership; building respectful and supportive workplaces; and increasing opportunities for women in jobs traditionally held by men.

  • Respectful Workplaces: Exploring the Costs of Bullying and Sexual Harassment to Businesses in Myanmar | 2019

    This study was conducted in partnership with the DaNa Facility in Myanmar to determine the prevalence and cost of bullying and harassment in the agribusiness, finance, retail, and tourism sectors. The report provides a set of practical recommendations and offers business leaders an opportunity to understand the experiences of employees relating to bullying and sexual harassment in Myanmar workplaces.




  • How Can Business Tackle Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work: A Toolkit for Action (2019)
    This toolkit provides a five-step framework to help business tackle gender-based violence in the world of work. It includes top tips, a BSR Diagnostic tool, and case studies illustrating how companies are tackling this complex issue. It is the key output of the Business Fights Poverty GBV Challenge which ran for nine months with support from IFC, Anglo American, Primark and CARE International UK.

  • Guidance Note: COVID-19 and Gender-Based Violence: Workplace Risks and Responses (2020)
    This guidance note informs employers about the heightened risks of gender-based violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and outlines ways in which employers can address these risks, improve employee and community well-being, and create a safe and resilient workplace.

  • Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Harassment: Emerging Good Practice for the Private Sector (2020)
    Jointly commissioned by IFC, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and CDC Group, this publication outlines emerging practices in addressing gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) in operations and investments. These practices are drawn from recent experience in the private sector, as well as a larger body of work from the non-profit sector. 

Company Case Studies

These case studies outline the results of some of the participating companies in the Waka Mere Commitment to Action (2017-2019), an initiative led by IFC and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce to improve business outcomes in Solomon Islands through advancing workplace gender equality by promoting women in leadership; building respectful and supportive workplaces; and increasing opportunities for women in jobs traditionally held by men. 

The following case studies are part of a series highlighting the resilience (Tabu Soro) of Fijian workplaces in times of crisis. The Tabu Soro case studies are part of IFC's Rakorako initiative (2019-2021) in partnership with the Fiji Human Resources Institute and supported by the governments of Australia and New Zealand. The initiative aimed to help businesses in Fiji address childcare demands and workplace responses to domestic and sexual violence.

Stories in the Media

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