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Former Mediaworks employee says scathing review gives 'no closure'

A former Mediaworks employee says a scathing 45-page review into the company culture has given her “no closure”, because alleged perpetrators of misconduct weren’t named.

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It found problems with sexual harassment, racism, bullying and gender pay equity. Source: 1 NEWS

The report conducted by Maria Dew QC was compiled from interviews with 100 current staff, 25 former staff and one young woman who was a guest at a MediaWorks promotional event in 2019. The review also gathered information from 483 current MediaWorks staff through a confidential survey.

It found a raft of failings at the company, including problems with sexual harassment, racism, bullying and pay equity, as well as a failure by senior management to deal with some of those problems.

There were also six sexual assault allegations - four serious allegations of sexual assault on women in the last three years and two historic sexual assault allegations.

Sarah* shared allegations of serious bullying with 1 News in May. She says she feels the report “is all for show”.

“As a past employee whose self-worth, confidence and career was destroyed at that company, it gives me no closure.”

Other former staff say they’re worried about accountability. Former worker Matt* believes Mediaworks already knew about the issues addressed in the report.

“A handful of issues recited in the report including accounts of a “Boys Club”, abuse of alcohol, drugs and bullying in the workplace will not come as a surprise to most current and former staff. What upsets me as a former staff member is knowing that people alluded to in the report may very well continue unscathed.

“... without being held publicly accountable I have little hope that the people who have and are currently doing wrong will face the consequences they deserve.”

Casey* claims “there are bullies in managerial positions employed there who have driven people out of jobs and it will be interesting to see if anything comes from this report”.

Source: 1 NEWS

1 News has also spoken to a former Mediaworks executive. They say while they have faith in new CEO Cam Wallace, the review was “a long time coming”.

“What was in the report was very concerning and confronting. We weren’t aware of the scale and size and how deep these issues were.”

“It’s proven the business has been left for too long in the wrong hands, management’s focus was more about themselves than the people in the company - that’s where things can go dramatically wrong”.

A current staffer told 1 NEWS she has little confidence the report will make a significant difference to Mediaworks’ culture.

"There are people in the executive team who aren't capable of creating change. There's not the competence or the expertise or the clout to make that happen. There's also a lack of trust in that team from the majority of staff in the company."

AUT’s head of radio Matt Mollgaard says the report is “grim”.

“I think the ‘boys’ club’ was really concerning. That shows there's been a level of mismanagement for a while and that hasn’t been addressed. If people genuinely feel there’s a boys’ club, and they can’t get ahead, and problems will be squashed by the boys ‘club, then you’ve got a real problem that needs to be fixed.”

He says students wanting to get into the industry will “choose with their feet”.

“We try our very best to make sure students are aware of any issues we know of. We want our students to go into safe places. At the moment it looks like Mediaworks isn’t that safe.”

Media commentator Gavin Ellis says he’s concerned about the lack of accountability, pay equity issues and racism highlighted in the report.

“The gender imbalance, particularly in pay, where the median gap between male and female employees is almost twice the national median, they have to address that urgently, and also the suggestion that they really pay little more than lip service to Te Ao Māori. That’s really another area they need to look to as well.”

Ellis added that Mediaworks isn’t the only company that would benefit from taking a hard look at their culture.

“This review is really a signal to every organisation in the media to look to their own houses. Don’t just say ‘Mediaworks has been hit with a scathing report’, but look inwards and look at your own cultures because the media industry in some shape or form can see pieces of this report resonating in their own workplace.”

A MediaWorks spokesperson said CEO Cam Wallace would not be available for an interview on the findings of the review, saying “Cam's focus will be on our people”.

In a statement posted on the MediaWorks website, Wallace says the company will develop an action plan around implementing the recommendations from the independent workplace review, which will be released in spring.

“We are mindful that generating culture change takes time and this review is an important step in a process for MediaWorks which is already underway. The executive team has recently been working with staff to establish a company vision, purpose and values, along with our business strategy, and we look forward to rolling this out soon.

“Other work underway includes a review of all employment policies, including the MediaWorks Code of Conduct and a programme of respect training workshops to address some of the issues raised in the review. These will be implemented in the final quarter of the year. I am confident in the direction we are heading in to build a culture at MediaWorks which is modern and contemporary.”

*Names have been changed

Do you know more about this story? Contact our reporter Kristin Hall at kristin.hall@tvnz.co.nz