The 'Amber effect' opens floodgates on dubious conduct by bosses


The 'Amber effect' opens floodgates on dubious conduct by bosses
  1. The 'Amber effect' opens floodgates on dubious conduct by bosses
    theage.com.au
    Call it the Amber effect. In the months since the former Seven staffer went public with her affair with the boss, the floodgates have opened with, most-often anonymous, letters sent to the media alleging all manner of dubious…
    Football

Two observations following news this week of yet another allegation of inappropriate male executive behaviour, this time by an executive at Westpac-owned wealth management business BT: first, the number of publicly disclosed instances of this type of misconduct is on the rise; and second, opinions about it are polarised.

In the three months since former Seven West Media staffer Amber Harrison blew the lid off the consensual affair she had with its now chief executive, Tim Worner, the floodgates have opened with, most-often anonymous, letters sent to the media alleging all manner of dubious conduct, from affairs to unwanted contact.

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Former Seven West Media employee Amber Harrison and CEO Tim Worner. Former Seven West Media employee Amber Harrison and CEO Tim Worner.  

Call it the Amber effect.

In the past few weeks alone, I have been alerted to allegations that a very senior judge and a captain of industry have had affairs with staff members. Until recently, the latter was the head of a multibillion-dollar company. In the judge's case, the woman left her employment, and in the company's case, both left.

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I have even overheard a pillar of the business community refer to Harrison as a "bunny boiler". This man sits on the board of a company whose annual report is littered with politically correct statements about corporate social responsibility and gender equality.

Of course, just because the ill-treatment of women in the workplace has become the issue du jour, doesn't mean it's new or getting worse. More, there is a growing understanding that it is not acceptable and it's less tolerated.

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And it's noteworthy that most of the tip-offs about affairs or sexual misconduct aren't coming from the women involved (to the extent we are able to track down the source of the information).

The clear exception is Harrison, who took her own story public because she believed she had been mistreated by Seven.

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QBEs response to CEO John Neals affair probably set the high-water mark in corporate governance on the issue. QBE's response to CEO John Neal's affair probably set the high-water mark in corporate governance on the issue. Photo: Louise Kennerley

The former executive assistant, who instigated legal action again Seven last week, is alleging the company began its investigation into her alleged misuse of a corporate credit card after she told Worner she had been suffering anxiety and panic attacks, threatening her employment.

Most often, the outing of misconduct is coming from colleagues who witnessed it. For the most part, whistleblowing by the party involved leaves a stigma that could affect their ability to either stay at the company or get another job.

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