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exclusive News July 25, 2022

Universal Music’s Global HR Boss, Eric Hutcherson, Back in Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

Universal Music’s Global HR Boss, Eric Hutcherson, Back in Australia (EXCLUSIVE)

Universal Music Group’s executive vice president and chief people and inclusion officer Eric Hutcherson has returned to Australia, TMN can confirm.

A second top-ranking UMG exec, Andrew Kronfeld, was also in Australia last week.

Hutcherson, one of UMG’s highest-ranking leaders, was in Australia four weeks ago to investigate fresh misconduct claims and dwindling faith within the major’s local leadership ranks.

He is expected to remain in the country until Friday.

A recent employee survey, filled out anonymously, found that almost 90% of staffers don’t trust some senior leaders within UMA’s top ranks. The findings, obtained by TMN, were not shared with all staffers despite being told they would be on two occasions.

A previous employee survey in 2018, that was shared with staff during an all-company meeting at the time, was equally scathing. A word cloud showed that the most used phrase by participants was the term “white male boys club” followed by the words “toxic” and “golf”.

UMA is without a human resources chief following the departure of Janine Ashton last year. Her replacement Tom Dale left in March, and his replacement, Yvette Cachia, starts August 22.

Hutcherson addressed staff during his last visit, telling employees that no decision had been made on who would lead the Australian branch through its cultural reset. Multiple attendees told TMN they felt “invigorated” and “hopeful” following his address.

Australian president George Ash also spoke briefly at the June 23 town hall, where he labelled some media “dickheads” for their reporting of the company’s years-old culture crisis. Ash himself was forced to apologise last August for an inappropriate joke he made.

George Ash

Pictured: UMA’s Australian president, George Ash

Less than two weeks after Hutcherson’s three-day visit last month, UMG announced the departure of joint managing director Darren Aboud. TMN understands that Kronfeld’s recent visit was to assess the operations and review the commercial marketing division following Aboud’s exit.

Hutcherson’s first visit came three days after this masthead first reported that a second investigation into alleged workplace misconduct at its Australian headquarters was underway.

It follows an external investigation last year – first reported by The Sydney Morning Herald’s Nathanael Cooper – into multiple claims of workplace bullying, harassment, racism, homophobia, discrimination, and more serious sexual assault allegations.

The probe led to the departure of Ben Facey, who was with UMA for more than six years before being promoted to a role with UMG-owned Republic Records in Los Angeles.

UMA unveiled some succession planning and announced a number of promotions on July 7. It also revealed that widely-respected music executive John O’Donnell plans to retire, and will leave his post as managing director of EMI Music Australia on September 30.

TMN is not suggesting any wrongdoing by Ash, Aboud, Facey or any other UMA execs.

Know something we don’t? Email any tips to [email protected] or contact the writers directly.

How did we get here? A timeline of Universal Music Australia’s Culture Reset:

August 9, 2021: Universal Music Australia Launches Workplace Culture Investigation
October 6, 2021: Ben Facey Out of Universal Music
June 9, 2022: UMA Launches Culture Task Force: Read The Internal Memo (EXCLUSIVE)
June 20, 2022: Universal Music Australia Faces Fresh Workplace Misconduct Investigation (EXCLUSIVE)
June 22, 2022: Universal Music’s Global HR Boss, Eric Hutcherson, Arrives in Australia Amid Culture Crisis (EXCLUSIVE)
July 6, 2022: Darren Aboud Exits Universal Music Australia (EXCLUSIVE)
July 7, 2022: Universal Music Reveals Leadership Changes, John O’Donnell Retires

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