Below is a note I shared with our people earlier today. In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share it here as well. – Andy
I have spoken often about equality and holding people to account for their actions. It should be a given that in 2021 all women have the same opportunities as men, can do their job free of harassment and discrimination, and can walk home without fear of being attacked.
And yet here we are.
A few weeks ago I marked International Women’s Day by talking about the need to stamp out violence against women. It came at a time when the collective conscious of our nation had been jolted by the realisation that this remains a very real issue in Australia – and of course around the world.
Since then there has been a groundswell of outrage as more examples of sexual abuse and harassment have come to light – in our workplaces, in our schools and in our communities. And with this outrage has come a call once again for change.
It has been confronting to hear the stories of those who have suffered, but it has shone a spotlight on a discussion we need to have as a nation.
The power imbalance that still exists, and has led to this recent debate, has shown there is still a lot more we must do as we strive for true gender equality. So how do we get to the heart of the issue and take action to effect real and lasting change?
As a CEO of a large corporate and a member of the Male Champions of Change Alliance, I have been passionate about improving outcomes for women but there is always more that we can do. I will continue to agitate for change to rid our country of this abuse – and this starts in our workplace.
However, despite our best efforts, including work on our culture and having the right policy and procedures in place, there are times when people just do not behave appropriately and someone is harassed or discriminated against.
We expect to see a media story soon, which will outline a small number of incidents of sexual harassment and misconduct within our workplace. These incidents are a stark reminder that we are not immune to this totally unacceptable behaviour, but what it will also show it that when we have uncovered this behaviour we have responded quickly, strongly and with empathy.
The most important thing to me is to keep each of you safe and well, and I have reflected a lot on the cases we have been asked about for today’s story.
No one should use their power or position to influence, coerce or harm another. At the core of this behaviour seems to be a belief by some men that they can abuse their power and take advantage of women. This is just not on.
What recent events have shown, is that we need to keep listening and remain absolutely focused on creating a truly safe and inclusive workplace where everyone is treated with respect.
We have a robust system in place, including our code of conduct, to help prevent this behaviour and deal with it when it does happen. But beyond policies and training this really goes to the heart of our culture.
It could be easy for us to think that there will always be a small number of cases because of the size of our company. But we cannot get caught up in that thinking – one woman, one person harmed is one too many.
But if it happens we respond quickly – we support victims and their families, and sack those who have not met our standards.
Speaking up and supporting each other
We must have frank conversations and listen and learn so we can continue to do better.
I want you all to know, that you can speak up at any time with confidence that your concerns will be heard and investigated fairly. You can do this via your leaders, HR Direct or our Whistleblower service.
And for those who witness any form of harassment or abuse of power – please do not be a bystander.
Make a choice to show you care and callout when something is not right.
If you feel we have fallen short of the values and standards we set for ourselves, you can also contact me at any time.
I want to understand what more we can do. We are all accountable for making a change. And we can all contribute in some way.