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IOOF flags sexual harassment incidents

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The wealth giant has revealed it has had two sexual harassment-related complaints in the last five years, as a parliamentary committee has taken to grilling financial institutions on the issue after the recent scandal at AMP.

In answers to questions on notice from the House of Representatives standing committee on economics, IOOF has flagged sexual harassment complaints which took place in Queensland and South Australia. 

The matters were both investigated internally by human resources, the company stated, with formal warnings given – but no remedies or settlement amounts applied to either cases. 

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No further details were provided. 

The parliamentary committee has asked major financial institutions for details around sexual harassment complaints in its ongoing inquiry on the sector, after Julia Szlakowski, the former employee who made a past sexual harassment claim against AMP Capital chief executive Boe Pahari came forward with her story

Shareholder scrutiny then led to Mr Pahari being demoted to his previous job, as well as the exits of AMP chair David Murray and AMP Capital chair John Fraser.

Labor senator Deborah O'Neill also used her parliamentary privilege to air another former AMP employee’s story of sexual harassment while working at the organisation

On Friday, CBA CEO Matt Comyn told the House of Representatives economics committee were no allegations of sexual harassment or nondisclosure agreements at the bank that he was aware of.

ANZ boss Shayne Elliott answered similarly, saying he didn’t know of any non-disclosure agreements that the bank may have in place but took the question on notice.

Media coverage reported in 2018 that a former senior trader from ANZ’s New York office launched a lawsuit against the bank and its then head of corporate sales in America, Ravi Nursey.

Mr Elliott took to Twitter to publicly apologise for the ANZ’s lawyers then grilling the former employee on her sexual history and the time she was raped in university.

“I apologise. This is wrong and not acceptable,” the ANZ boss wrote at the time.

“We were not aware of our external NY lawyers strategy and should have been. We have instructed them that this is not to be used during trial and I will apologise to the complainant personally.”

Further media accounts from 2017 reported ANZ sacked an offshore banker for sexual harassment.

Speaking to the House committee on Friday, Mr Elliott commented the media coverage of such events is always a “learning opportunity”, saying policies around governance and whistle-blowing were set to be discussed at the bank’s next board meeting.

CBA deputy CEO David Cohen noted the AMP scandal had presented an opportunity for the bank to re-examine its whistleblower process.

“Recent events have given us the opportunity to make sure that the efforts we’ve made in the past... particularly around encouraging people to speak up and around creating an atmosphere in the organisation where people feel safe to speak up, [have] certainly increased our focus around that," Mr Cohen said.

"We think that’s one of the most important elements in order to unearth inappropriate behaviour: to have people feeling safe to speaking up. Also, it’s about having the means to speak up and, when they do speak up, having that issue dealt with in an appropriate way, particularly where confidentiality can be absolutely paramount."

Mr Comyn had also said there was “zero tolerance” for the behaviour at CBA, with regular training for leaders and the organisation about how to identify options if they’d like to report misconduct and formal channels to make complaints including a hotline.

Colonial First State also told the committee in response to questions on notice that there had been no sexual harassment complaints at its company in the last five years.

Mercer Australia was also asked the question, but responded in its capacity as a registrable superannuation entity for the Mercer Super Trust, stating it has a fully outsourced model and as such, has no employees.

 

IOOF flags sexual harassment incidents
IOOF flags sexual harassment incidents
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Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth. 

Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio. 

You can contact her on [email protected].

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