By Elena Mupandawana
Workplace safety has become one of the key priorities for organizations across the world. Organizations are required to create safe working environments for their staff to protect them from all harm. Recently, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) facilitated a training for staff and colleagues at the Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat to raise awareness on best practices of creating a safe working environment. The training focused on empowering employees to understand the importance of a safe and supportive working environment which is characterized by the absence of discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment, and bullying.
“A safe working environment is more than just preventing injuries or the spread of disease at work places but it is about prioritizing the well-being of every employee. Employees should feel secure and enjoy a safe space, company values, and a positive working environment that encourages respect for everyone,” said Mr. Paul Muchena who core facilitated the workshop with Mr. Gabriel Kandewo and Clementine Uwineza.
Mr. Muchena emphasized that a Safe, Accessible, Dignified and Inclusive (SADI) environment should be the order of the day in all organizations especially in faith based organizations. He said the principle of safety, accessibility, dignity and inclusivity was one of the strategies that contribute to good performance and participation of all workers. He encouraged implementation of a safe, accessible, dignified and inclusive programming as central to delivering quality service.
“This leads to improved organizational performance, increases organisational coherence and promotes participation of all in change processes,” Mr. Muchena added.
He further explained the four components of SADI which are (a) safety – where there is the commitment to safeguarding all people at work place and to ensure that action is taken to support them if they are at risk of significant harm, (b) accessibility – which is about ensuring accessibility to the resources the workers need to accomplish the organizational goal, (c) dignity – which stresses the dignity of every person, as enshrined in the Catholic Social Teachings that a dignified workplace is free from abuse, bullying, harassment or victimisation and (d) inclusivity – which entails that safeguarding is a shared responsibility for all including staff, visitors and those whom the organization serves. According to Mr. Muchena, an inclusive workplace ensures that all staff members feel valued, listened to, and supported when they raise their concerns.
Mr. Muchena, who is the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe coordinator also addressed issues concerning gender justice which he said is everyone’s business from individual, organisations and partners. He called on ZCBC to continuously harness the necessary knowledge and skills that promote gender mainstreaming in its structures.
Clemetine Uwineza, the CCJPZ, Research and Documentation Officer, talked about sexual exploitation and sexual harassment which she said compromises performance in workplaces while it also psychologically and emotionally affects the victims who fail to defend themselves due lack of knowledge on the necessary steps to take or are afraid of losing their job. Uwineza said sexual abuse was rampant in most organizations and emphasized that there was need to curb the scandal. She said the problem negatively affected the working environment, undermines gender equality, creates unfair practices in employment, and adversely impacts the dignity and well-being of workers.
In his closing remarks, ZCBC Secretary General, Fr. Tryvis Moyo applauded CCJPZ for eye opening training that provided insights on safeguarding at work places. He called on all organizations to prioritize safeguarding of their workers through listening to their complaints and information sharing so as to purge potential harm.