Free to grow combats violence

May 10, 2022 | General

A group of employees from Tikketai that voluntary participates in a gender-based violence prevention programme, specifically developed and designed by the Institute for Security Studies to be presented in the workplace. This 12-week programme aims to empower individuals to break patterns of violence towards women and children, normally happening in the family setting.

Tikketai, a national wholesaler of broccoli and cauliflower all year round, has joined forces with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in the development of a gender-based violence prevention programme that aims at intentionally preventing domestic violence. 

The role of the private sector

Dr Thandi van Heyningen, Senior researcher for the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the ISS explains that the programme aims to break patterns of violence towards women and children, normally happening in the family setting.  It focuses on improving communication skills, teaching healthy conflict resolution skills, techniques for self-care and emotional regulation and positive parenting skills, and inevitably the stop to intergenerational cycles of violence.

“The private sector has a fundamental role in this transformation. The National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide calls on businesses to facilitate a culture shift in the workplace, involving management and employees to shape and influence change around domestic violence.  Tikketai has shown, that even small businesses can become industry leaders in supporting women and enabling violence prevention,” she adds.

Tikketai CEO Burger Gericke says that they see and acknowledge that violence at home also affects the workplace.  “We can link it directly to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity.   However, this is not our only motivation.  We truly care for the people that work at Tikketai and want to empower them with skills that make them happier, healthier people.  We want to equip and support them to cope with work and home life stresses,” he states.

How it works

This 12-week gender-violence programme in development has been running at Tikketai since 2019.  The human-centered design methodology is used to build an effective programme for the people who need it and can benefit from it.  Rapid testing is done where the programme is facilitated, feedback from the voluntary attendees is gathered, the programme is adapted, refined, and represented again. Up to date about 40 employees from Tikketai have voluntarily participated in the programme.  Van Heyningen says that Tikketai is unique in how they value their employees, and the workplace becomes a safe space where employees can receive support. 

Free to grow

Participants had to think of a name for the programme.  They came up with “Free to grow” which fits in so well with the sector they work in and the level on which this programme empowers them.

Lee-Ann Oktober, a voluntary participant of the first group, says that she found a lot of value from this programme regarding managing her reactions towards her family members to resolve conflict.  “I also received tools to assertively parent my 4-year-old by not simply allowing everything, but by setting boundaries”, she adds.

 Oktober also shares that she has a friend who has been facing domestic violence and sharing the material from this programme with her, empowered her to establish open communication lines with her partner to resolve conflict before it ends in violence.

Goliath Geduld has been with Tikketai for nine years and formed part of the second round of programme rollout.   “This helped me to be a better father for my children and to communicate effectively instead of getting angry and aggressive.  This improved relationships in our home and I am very thankful for that”, Geduld says.

Return on investment

Gericke states, “We believe that we reduce the burden of some of our employees by offering them the chance to participate in this gender-based violence prevention programme which effectively combats violence in the family setting.  They even take the tips and tools back to family and friends which has a far-reaching and momentous effect back in the community. Partnerships like these are win-win deals for us and the return on investment was worth every minute an employee was not at her or his workstation”.

“We clearly see a return on investment since the programme has been running.  There is less conflict on the production line, improved relationships between staff members, reduced absenteeism, and increased productivity.  I can strongly recommend other employers to consider presenting this programme in the workplace”, he concludes