Commerce Case Study Report for David Jones Sexual Harassment

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Principles of Responsible Commerce: Group 5

October 2010
Assessment 3: Case Study Report
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – David Jones and Pricewaterhouse Coopers Kristy van Duin, Li Yutao, Pablo Arenas, Jace Burgess

Executive Summary
The following report looks at the increase of Sexual Harassment claims within Corporate Australia that have been lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission over the last decade. David Jones Pty Ltd and Pricewaterhouse Cooper are two prevalent cases which have attracted negative media with regard to Sexual Harassment, and this report utilises both Risk Management and Egoism Theories to scrutinise various impacts, responsibilities and recommendations for Individuals, Organisations and Society.

Organisational and Societal culture is identified as the primary contributing factor of workplace Sexual Harassment, and it is identified within the report that further Legislation and workplace risk management approaches need to be enacted if the increase is to be addressed.

Methods of workplace mechanisms to curtail the increase have been listed as induction, training, and facilitation of workplace change. Prompt and decisive action is also necessary to address issues when raised. Societal culture also is identified as requiring change through Legislation, and the requirement for male persons of political, social and organisational power to lead the cultural change management process.

It is this reports’ recommendation that further review of Legislation and workplace practices be urgently undertaken with a view to reduce the steadily rising number of reported workplace Sexual Harassment claims within Corporate Australia.


Case Facts3
Impact on Individuals, Organisations and Society5
Risk Management Theoretical Perspective8
Egoism Theoretical Perspective9
Responsibilities of Individuals, Organisations and Society10
Recommendation to Individuals, Organisations and Society12
Reference List14

Case Facts
Figure [ 1 ]: Australian Human Rights Commission Statistics Over the past decade there has been a continual increase in the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace. The Australian Human Rights Commission (2010) statistics (Figure 1) demonstrate a steady increase in reported cases of sexual harassment from 2000 to 2009.

In 2007 a former executive of Pricewaterhouse Coopers filed legal suit against her previous employer alleging she was sexually harassed by an executive, Mr Edwards. She sought $11 million compensation for damages, loss of earnings and other compensation (Australian Associated Press, 2008). When Ms Rich raised the issue of her sexual harassment with senior management, senior executives responded by placing her on access restrictions, banning her from the office, allocating clients to other partners, and reducing her salary (Clifton, 2007). A settlement between $5 and $6 million was reached on 20 March 2008. Pricewaterhouse Coopers continue to deny the claims, however, each party has accepted that the opposing party had their own perspectives, but would not accept the other as completely accurate (Moran, 2008).

More recent evidence of Sexual Harassment in Corporate Australia attracting negative media attention is the case of Kristy Fraser-Kirk vs. David Jones Pty Ltd initiated earlier this year claiming compensation of $37 million for alleged incidences of sexual harassment by former CEO Mark McInnes. The key difference between the two cases highlighted within this report is, in response to Fraser-Kirks’ allegations and intense media scrutiny, McInnes resigned. He claims his resignation was for the benefit of the company and his family. Harrison (2005) argues that many will view this approach to ethical decision making as the antithesis of “ethical”. This legal case is still before the courts.

Notably, in both highlighted cases above, organisational culture is demonstrated to...
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