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Key Breakfast Briefing 2022: Executive Behaviour, Cancel Culture and Workplace Power
The below represents a summary of the key presentation points:
1. How the world has changed
The world has changed as a result of recent events, including the pandemic, the #MeToo movement, political events, climate change and the war in Ukraine.
2. Differing information sources
This change has been presented to us primarily through short news headlines and social media commentary, which has fundamentally changed the way in which we communicate and absorb information.
3. Regulatory environment of the workplace: loss of employer’s “workplace power”
Employers no longer have “leverage” in the employment relationship. Australian employees have an array of claims available to them, as compared to their international counterparts. The changes in the employment relationship, coupled with the changes in society, have culminated in the “great resignation” and recruitment challenges, and have naturally created a uniquely difficult environment for employers. Therefore, there is a need for organisations to learn from these times and for their leadership teams to consider whether they are clear on what it is their organisation stands for and doesn’t stand for, and how to implement this in practice.
4. Executives are not immune (they are human after all)
There is a lot of media attention towards alleged bullying and harassment, or “unacceptable behaviour” which can severely harm an organisation, even if it has taken all the right reactive steps in investigating the conduct.
5. “Cancel Culture”
This feeds into the perils of “cancel culture”; and more specifically the tension between society’s aspiration to be inclusive, while also rushing to “cancel” individuals and organisations for their perceived wrongdoings. “Cancel culture” does nothing to help us understand why inappropriate behaviour occurs in the first place, and how to prevent it in the future.
6. Executive employees in the headlines
Many executive employees in leadership positions have been “cancelled” because of their conduct,
7. The failure of education
While training and policy have been around for decades, inappropriate workplace conduct persists, and is often alleged to be committed by the brightest minds in an organisation. Therefore, this tells us that the current education model in many organisations is perfunctory, and they must do more to engage with the nuances of human relationships.
8. The challenge for organisations
Organisations and their leadership need to take a step further into the “grey area” and consider what more they can do in the education space to prevent inappropriate workplace behaviour. It is no longer enough to cover the “black and white” examples of discrimination and harassment, rather it is necessary to have difficult conversations about human behaviour that is not clearly right or wrong.