Content Warning: This article discusses sexual harassment. If you or someone you know is affected by the following story, you are not alone. To speak to someone, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
This kind of thing is happening more and more frequently these days – in no small part thanks to the brave people continuing to come forward with their experiences. The Sony dismissal in particular was as public as it gets, first announced internally via a company teleconference, then later reported by both Sydney Morning Herald and The Industry Observer.
The public nature of it was the first time I felt a small sense of optimism in the Australian music industry since the #MENOMORE movement started.
Australian defamation laws are super air tight. There is an argument for the current laws in that in some cases, they stop the reputation of some innocent people being unjustly ruined by someone with a personal vendetta. However horrible for victims of abuse who find it nearly impossible to get any justice.
A report released from the Crime Statistics Agency found that in 2009 and 2010, over 3,500 rapes were reported to Victoria Police. Of those, only 3% ended in a court conviction. There is no greater statistic to prove that in Australia, if you’re an abuser, the law is actually there to protect you!
It is because of this scenario, that social media accounts like Beneath the Glass Ceiling have to exist. How else can victims of abuse in Australia find a voice without being sued?
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However these accounts are actually starting to be incredibly effective, inflicting huge damage to the brand of many people and companies within the music industry.
The music industry is very small, we all know who they’re talking about – even if they don’t explicitly say it, and damaging a personal and corporate brand like this is bad for business. Really bad for business.
If your company or executives have a reputation for not only maintaining the employment of abusers within your company, but actively silence victims via NDAs and threatening legal action, it is a matter of time before growth falls off a cliff.
For example, if you’re a record company that has a reputation of abuse, what artists will want to sign to you? What labels will want to enter a JV with you? Without labels and artists, you have no hits, no rockstars, no revenue.
For decades multination music companies could use NDAs and legal action to protect their reputation and move on. Now that won’t work – we have the internet, people talk, and more importantly, people have more commercial opportunities and options on who they work with than ever before.
So these companies with histories of abuse have 2 options;
- Continue as normal, slowly finding less and less people want to work with you. This will result in the need to overpay for deals, reducing your ROI and chances of finding the next global superstar.
- Completely change your company culture, and publicly fire abusers as a declaration of what you stand for and who you want to work at your company.
Even if you are the executive of a multinational company — who has no moral compass around abuse — firing abusers and cultivating an inclusive, supportive culture is actually the best thing you can do for your bottom line. It is the only logical commercial decision if your focus is on growth and business development.
In an ideal world, we would never have executives who are so insensitive to the rampant abuse that runs through the industry however if commercial gain is the only motivator for change that some can latch on to, I’ll take it.
Personally, I am hopeful. Nothing will encourage some executives and shareholders more than the fruits of capitalism, and I believe we are about to see capitalism rewarding the companies who foster positive cultures and rid themselves of abusers.
Obviously that should not be the motivator. Put your dick away and fire people who can’t, or if you’re not in a position to fire, call it out and publicly champion change.