The dangerous love affair between sexism and corporate culture.

Sexism and corporate culture. Why do they love each other so?

In October this year, the ABC program 7:30 ran an expose on sexism and sexual harassment in Australian law firms.

“I moved into working in a law firm in the most junior role that you could, so basic entry level, and in that role there were two male lawyers who started making unwanted advances,” Melissa, who asked the ABC to not publish her surname, told 7.30. She was 19 at the time of her employment.

Now, a similar reality has been alleged by a woman who worked for ANZ Bank in New York. Former senior trader Malika Oyo filed action against Australia’s ANZ Bank and her former manager earlier this year. The matter has recently been referred to a judge for mediation, and the The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed the extent of Oyo’s complaint against the company.

In 2013, Oyo was sacked after filing a complaint with HR and senior executives about the behaviour of her managers.

She alleged she was spoken to in a sexually aggressive way. The managers had told her to “suck my dick”. That, at a dinner with fellow employees and members of the bank’s management, she had been pressured to reveal the number of people she had slept with.

She was one of four African American employees at the bank during this time, and her complaint states she was regularly referred to as a “monkey” or an “ape”. She alleges men in the office would ‘rate’ the breasts of women, and frequently brag about attending sex bars.

ANZ denies any wrongdoing, and is defending itself against the claims.


“While Ms Oyo’s claims are difficult to read, we have conducted a thorough investigation and deny the claims and will be defending the matter vigorously,” a spokesman tole The Sydney Morning Herald. “ANZ takes allegations of discrimination very seriously and employees who are found to have breached ANZ’s anti-discrimination policies are disciplined which may include termination of employment.”

Oyo is seeking damages, and no court ruling has yet been made.

Until this happens, we cannot speculate about what happened in the corridors of ANZ.

What we can say is that Oyo’s report of sexual discrimination is not an isolated account. We know that women experience sexual harassment at work regularly.

A recent poll of more than 1000 female workers in the US showed 45 per cent of respondents had experienced unwanted physical conduct or touching of a sexual nature. The same survey showed more than half the respondents (60 per cent) had been on the receiving end of sexually-oriented jokes, that 56 per cent had been cat called.

One in three women experience sexual harassment at work. Image via iStock.

We know that reports of sexual discrimination and harassment in workplaces are all too common.

A survey of 2,235 female employees between the ages of 18 and 24, conducted by Cosmopolitan, found one in three women experience sexual harassment while at work.

We know that women are paid less, while at the same time enduring this abuse.

Statistics released today from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) show Australian women earn 23 per cent less than men. That, in the 2015-16 financial year, the average full-time female employee took home $26,853 less than the average male employee. That women at top levels of management earn $93,884 less than men do.

That's almost a $100,000 pay cut alongside a culture of sexual harassment.

Why would anyone want to work like that?