NEW YORK — At Bobby Flay’s new restaurant here, Bar Americain, corporate leaders gathered on Wednesday morning to address the topic of domestic violence.
The event was also to launch SafeWork, a program to increase public awareness of the topic and the economic and social impact violence can have on the workplace. Hosted by Flay, Safe Horizon and USI Holdings Corp., the morning included a dramatic role play by Plays for Living, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping organizations and communities deal with common social issues.
“When I joined Liz Claiborne in 1994, I understood very little about domestic violence,” said Paul Charron, chairman and chief executive officer of Liz Claiborne Inc., encouraging others to begin domestic-violence assistance programs in the workplace. “I didn’t think it happened to nice families or nice companies.”
For Claiborne, which has been working to promote awareness on the domestic-violence issue since 1991, the issue is particularly germane. In spring 2003, Charron explained, one Claiborne employee’s estranged husband demanded to be let into the facility to meet his wife. Security wouldn’t let him in, police were called and it led into an armed standoff that lasted well into the night.
“I realized that what happened that day could have ended in a deadly manner,” Charron said. “And because we were prepared for this and were able to deal with the situation in the right way, things ended properly.”
Since 1991, 60 Claiborne employees have come forward asking for assistance with their domestic-violence issues. It continues these efforts, since homicide is the leading cause of death for women on the job — 17 percent of those females have been murdered by their partner at the workplace.
Other speakers included Linda Fairstein, a novelist and domestic violence legal expert; Gordon Campbell and Brooke McMurray of Safe Horizon, and Stacey Dougan of Greenberg Traurig LLP.