Mediaworks in the spotlight for unsafe and unhealthy workplace


BuckettLaw was alarmed to read the shocking revelations arising from the “boys club culture” at MediaWorks. What makes this more alarming is that the report comes some years after the #metoo movement and the public decrying of the type of behaviour outed in the report.

What makes this situation more astounding is that MediaWorks management were aware of the offensive behaviours, stood by and did nothing.

It was a culture of acceptance. There was no accountability indeed it would appear the offensive and harmful behaviours were part of the norm and condoned. It was the “Weinsteinesque” boys club culture alive and well here in Aotearoa which quietly went under the radar sponsored by the organisation.

In the circumstance those managers of MediaWorks who stood by and watched are as much accountable as the perpetrators of the offending behaviour and the ensuing damage and harm.

What the report reveals is that the behaviour was systemic and wide ranging. It included bullying, racism, sexual assault, illegal drug use and heavy boozing.

The damage and fallout were great.  Employees affected have  suffered long term damage to their wellbeing. One employee seriously contemplated taking her life. It could not have got any worse than this.

The bottom line is no one comes to work to be abused. The employer has legal obligations and duties of care to provide a safe and healthy work environment.

Hopefully, the promises made by the MediaWorks CEO are not just platitudes. The responsibility lies with him as the head of the organisation to lead the culture change.  The investigator has given him the blueprint for that change. However, it will need him as the captain of the ship to role model and champion the change. Change starts at the top.  Strong leadership is required.

The review and the apology are a  positive start in a new direction, but speaking is one thing the doing and the effecting change is another. What timeframes has the organisation set itself? What is going to perpetuate the change and what will the new culture look like?

How can there be change if the same people remain in positions of power and influence?

The perpetrators of the behaviour are health hazards. Can media works cut the cancer out or will it merely apply a band aid?

Simply having policies and processes does not work.

Can a leopard change its spots? We suggest that without a complete purge and a more diverse employment regime it may be difficult to perpetrate genuine change if the behaviours are so habitual and engrained as they appear to be.

There will be little utility in having the boys club reset the culture itself.

Those in senior and influential positions have already demonstrated incapacity to understand what is appropriate and what is not. It appears that certain words “hoe” and “slut” were accepted as normal as was the culture of sexism and racism.

We will watch this space and for the moment give credit where it is due but with a strong warning. This type of culture and behaviour is unlawful and unacceptable in a modern civilised employment environment and there needs to be accountability. Afterall our cousins across the Tasman have got it right. The monetary penalties are far more severe and can include incarceration for those in control and influence who let theses things happen. Until stricter accountability and zero tolerance, we know there are more organisations like media works out there causing serious harm and damage to its employees.

Whether you’re an employer or employee and you or your workplace is experiencing difficulties or are in a similar situation, Buckett Law can help you.
Get in touch today to find out more.

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