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News September 1, 2021

Denis Handlin speaks: ‘I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate manner’

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Denis Handlin speaks: ‘I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate manner’

Former Sony Music Australia CEO, Denis Handlin, has issued his first statement since being ousted from the organisation.

His comments come in the wake of the Everybody Knows podcast. The first episode of the podcast dropped today and focuses almost exclusively on the culture within Sony Music Australia under Handlin’s reign.

The podcast does not levy any accusations of harassment directly at Handlin, however does note he was at the helm when women claim their careers and lives were destroyed by what happened to them there.

In researching the podcast, journalist Ruby Jones – who spoke to TMN earlier this week – said she quickly realised “Sony is where the story is” and that “the story is more than a Me Too story”.

“It’s not only about sexual harassment. It’s about workplace culture, about bullying, intimidation. And those things are more insidious, more difficult to prove, easier to dismiss and more pervasive. I realise I’m not reporting on a person, I’m reporting on a company – one of the most powerful companies in Australian music,” she said.

In today’s episode, Jones noted that after the months-long investigation, Handlin finally responded to requests for comment just days before the episode was due to air.

Handlin’s response was a one-page letter, Jones said, in which he said he’d always provided support and encouragement to women in the industry, and personally championed diversity.

“He says he promoted women as artists and employees and points to the fact that by the time he left Sony, 11 of the 15 senior management positions at the company were held by women,” Jones said on today’s podcast.

Handlin did, however, admit to instances of sexual misconduct within the organisation, but said he acted to put a stop to them.

“I would never tolerate treating women in an inappropriate or discriminatory manner,” he told Jones. “At any time I was made aware of this sort of behaviour, I took action to ensure that was stopped and didn’t occur again. Over the years, this included seeing people at all levels and all seniority leave the company. With issues of sexual misconduct, I always took immediate action in accordance with the law and best practice in the interests of those involved in such traumatic and disturbing events.”

Jones said Handlin’s statement – the first since he left in March – is a “big deal”.

“He’s actually telling me that there were instances of sexual misconduct at the company over the years, and that they involved people at all levels of seniority. No one as senior as Denis Handlin has ever been this explicit before.”

Read more: 

Inside the investigation that will expose Australia’s music industry
5 questions that need answering after Denis Handlin’s exit
Why audio was the perfect medium to explore & expose Australia’s music industry
Inside the Australian music industry’s toxic underbelly


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