Dyson conduct ‘no surprise’ to a profession that has not changed in 3 decades

Clarity’s Executive General Manager, Vicki Kennedy, and Your Call’s CEO, Nathan Luker, recent sat down with Lawyers Weekly to discuss sexual harassment within the legal sector.

In the last 30 years, an executive general manager commented that nothing within the legal profession had changed to address sexual harassment. Implementing strong and robust whistleblowing policies could be the key to finally addressing that.

Upon learning that an independent inquiry had found a former justice of the High Court sexually harassed associates, the legal profession has responded with many debates, commentary and advice on changing the culture and implementing new policies. While it has spurred into action, one professional said the news was hardly surprising.

Vicki Kennedy, executive general manager of Your Call – an independent provider of external whistleblowing programs – commented that in her 30 years’ experience as an HR manager, practicing solicitor and legal recruiter, “nothing changed, nothing has improved” in how the law profession addresses behavioural misconduct.

The news of the inquiry was not new or surprising to Ms Kennedy, who said her office had become a bit of a “confessional” for people – both women and men – approaching her about sexual harassment conduct and the concerns for their careers.

“Legal recruiters just move people around but the penny dropped when I realised that I had entered the profession when we had our last recession and in all my years since, [up until] the current recession was announced, nothing has improved,” she said.

Then there is enacting whistleblower policies. For Ms Kennedy, she was often moving lawyers from toxic companies and into healthier workplaces, but there was no chance to retroactively prevent and call out the workplaces for their behaviour. Working within a whistleblower disclosure management and reporting system has changed that.

Your Call CEO Nathan Luker said it is “absolutely crucial” that the discussions on new policies or procedures should consider and recommend implementing a whistleblower element to build up the trust and transparency within the workplace.

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Originally published by Naomi Neilson on16 July 2020