George Ash has confirmed an investigation into workplace culture at Universal Music Australia.

The President of the major label has engaged Darren Perry at law firm Seyfarth Shaw to conduct the investigation, informing staff on Friday and encouraging them to raise concerns through the internal and external complaints channels.

As reported by Sydney Morning Herald‘s Nathanael Cooper, who broke the story, in an email on July 30 George Ash “acknowledged the company was aware of the allegations that had been published online, including an allegation that had been made about him.”

Ash told SMH: “I had a complaint recently raised against myself around a joke I made in a Zoom meeting. It was insensitive, and that went through the appropriate processes and I apologised to everyone in the company who was impacted by it.”

Instagram account Beneath The Glass Ceiling has been holding the music industry to account since November 2020, publishing anonymised accounts of bullying, harassment, and assault.

“As the leader of this company I take full responsibility for creating a respectful workplace culture for everyone,” George Ash wrote in the email to staff. “With respect to my own behaviour, it is particularly painful to realise now that what I intended as jokes were unacceptable comments that made some of you uncomfortable.”

SMH reports the multiple claims made against staffers at Universal Music Australia include allegations of bullying, harassment, racism, homophobia, discrimination, as well as more serious allegations of sexual assault.

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This new investigation makes Universal Music the second global major label to launch an investigation into inappropriate behaviour at its Australian office. In June, 20 former Sony Music Australia employees came forward to share allegations of a toxic workplace culture via The Guardian.

After both an internal and external investigation, CEO Denis Handlin was fired, and two other executives, Pat Handlin and Mark Stebnicki, were stood down.

Speaking to Nathanael Cooper, Ash said: “My initial response was ‘I don’t know whether the allegations are true or not’ but it made me think we haven’t done enough and we need to do more in our company. I need to step up and take responsibility.

“[…] In some ways I feel like I have let people down,” he said. “It’s not the company or the culture I want to work in […] if people are feeling like that then I need to address things.”

Ash told Cooper that before the issues were raised, he believed he had been doing an amazing job, but that he does see a positive change to come of the investigation.

“If there is any positive to come of this, it creates that catalyst for us to speak openly about things and hopefully address things to create a workplace culture that people can be proud of,” Ash said.