This week, everyone was talking about the two footy blokes who were forced to resign over workplace affairs.
Simon Lethlean and Richard Simkiss were both married executives, who were both stood down from their roles after it was revealed they were getting their kicks off with junior administrative staff.
The outcry was swift and fierce. Commentators derided the league for being too heavy handed. Too hardline.
“Why the hell should a CEO determine what people do in their free time?” They asked. What does a bit of hanky panky in your private life have to do with you performing at your job?
The women weren’t harassed. Or abused. They didn’t even complain. The men were reportedly excellent executives; highly regarded in their roles.
LISTEN: We entered into a heated argument on this week’s episode of Mamamia Out Loud, over the scandal in the AFL. Post continues below.
So why did they lose their jobs?
We don’t know the full story here. There could have been policies in place, or other incidents to warrant this approach. What we DO know, because the AFL reported it, is that it “caused distress and concern to a number of people”.
Other reports surfaced, days later, of a “toxic, sexist culture” within AFL headquarters, where men in the office would come up with a top ten list of female colleagues they wanted to shag.
And tell them: “you’re number five”.
So to anyone clutching their pearls and asking “what will become of the office romance?” – understand this. This is not a story about dalliances over the work desk. This is a story about turning around a certain culture that exists in many workplaces across Australia. And about a CEO having a duty of care that extends beyond his executive mates.
So I, for one, would like to say; thank you.
Because when I watched the press conference, I cheered.
The full press conference is here:
“I expect that my Executives are role models and set a standard of behaviour for the rest of the organisation,” CEO Gillon McLachlan said.
He talked about wanting a diverse, inclusive, and equal culture – where employees are treated respectfully.
“The journey we are on to a more equal and respectful workplace must be more than just words – it must be backed up with action and change,” he said.
“I’m proud of the change we are making. We have made dramatic change, whether it’s the amount of women on the management team, a number of women in the organisation – talented women.”
This is a man who oversees more women than ever working in the industry. Who works with more women than ever in head office, where three of the nine management team that report to him are women. A man who has led SO much change for women in the AFL. He brought forward the women’s league, stood tall at every game, and who showed with his actions that he means what he says.