With the announcement on Friday that Mark McInnes, CEO of Australia's premium department store brand David Jones, has resigned from his multimillion-dollar job after "unbecoming" behaviour involving a female staff member at two company functions there has been a barrage of media commentary. Most of the TV coverage has included sound bites from women sharing their opinion. Which could simply perpetuate the outdated perception that sexual harassment is just a women’s issue. Of course, it’s not.
Sure, sexual harassment is a problem for women and it can get in the way of their career progression. But it’s also a big problem for employers - particularly when it impacts on productivity and if it results in women leaving the organisation to escape the perpetrator (often an easier option than blowing the whistle) or when there are big payouts, or reputational damage like the DJ's example.
So I was particularly interested in hearing from other business men: what they were thinking about McInnes' antics, the response by the board and what it means for other CEOs? I was also interested to hear from other women who might have been the recipient of unbecoming behaviour as well - do you think this high profile casualty will make more women come forward and blow the whistle on their bosses?
I asked a question on my LinkedIn answers, and this is what some of the people in my network had to say:
- “I hate to say this, but I have seen similar issues more times than I care to recall. Not always at C level - but the behaviour of too many men in senior levels of business are governed by their testosterone level.” - Anthony
- “There's a similar case in the news here concerning the now-former CEO of Penguin Canada. Harassment suits make the news when foolish men in positions of extraordinary power get their comeuppance. Really, what's new about that? - Judy
- “What I'm most interested in is that people were afraid to come forward. And I'd like to know what gives others, who may face the same fears and intimidation, the courage to come forward.” - Vasco
- “The little man and big egos. Happens all the time...” - Padric
- “I am more interested in protecting this woman after the media spotlight is off the incident. How will she be treated by her immediate peers, how will she be treated by the DJ hierarchy? Will the "boys club" close ranks so she can not advance her career?” - Amanda
In any case, if we are serious about getting more women into leadership roles then we all need to work together and ensure these sorts of scenarios become a thing of the past, and that in the interim victims can blow the whistle without the fear of retribution.