Dozens of staff at Australia’s biggest consultancy firms have been sacked for bullying and sexual harassment.
PwC’s leaking of confidential tax policy information to clients triggered the inquiry.
Increase in complaints ‘a sign of progress’ at KPMG
KPMG received 88 complaints about staff conduct in the past financial year, with 38 substantiated.
That number is up from 27 from the previous year.
“We will continue to empower our people to speak up about any unethical or inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, especially to their leaders,” KPMG’s Senate submission said.
“For that reason, we view any increase in reporting in the immediate term as a sign of progress.”
EY sacks eight partners
EY confirmed it sacked eight partners in the past two years for failing to meet the company’s “values”.
The firm confirmed it had conducted 17 formal workplace investigations last financial year.
The investigations involved accusations of sexual harassment, bullying in addition to other misconduct.
EY subsequently substantiated 13 of the complaints, with one investigation ongoing.
As a result, the firm has engaged former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to investigate its workplace culture.
Deloitte sacks four partners
Deloitte confirmed 121 reports of misconduct in the last financial year – 13 involving partners.
The firm sacked four partners as a result of internal investigations.
The number of reports increased from 78 recorded the previous year – when Deloitte sacked two partners for inappropriate workplace conduct.
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Boston Consulting Group
Meanwhile, Boston Consulting Group refused to disclose the number and nature of misconduct complaints.
“While we are unable to disclose details for privacy and confidentiality reasons, and in the interests of employee safety and wellbeing, what we can say is that any misconduct that has been raised has been thoroughly and appropriately dealt with,” the company’s Senate submission said.
No excuse for sexual harassment
Employment lawyer Stephen Dryley-Collins said there is no excuse for sexual harassment or workplace bullying.
“These statistics show that unlawful workplace conduct is still happening with unacceptable frequency. And they also show that no industry or sector is immune,” he said.
“Employees who engage in sexual harassment and bullying can expect to be the subject of workplace investigations and can also expect to lose their job.”
Mr Dryley-Collins advised anyone experiencing sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination to seek urgent expert advice.
“People who are exposed to this sort of unlawful conduct might be entitled to substantial compensation,” he said.
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